The Phoenix Suns‘ remarkable sweep of the Denver Nuggets last round was marred a bit by the news that Chris Paul, the team’s superstar veteran point guard, was placed in COVID-19 health and safety protocols. According to NBA insider Shams Charania, he will, in fact, miss Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Clippers.
As of this afternoon, the team announced that he remained in the protocols. That was a pretty clear indication that he would not be available on Sunday to open that crucial series against L.A.
Now, according to Charania, that is official. Both teams will be absent arguably their best players, as Kawhi Leonard went down with an ACL injury during the Clippers’ series against the top-seeded Utah Jazz. Paul George and a breakout performance by Terance Mann clinched things in Game 6 for L.A. on Friday night.
Paul is averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 assists per game in the postseason so far. He’s shooting an impressive 50.9/44.4/91.2 during the run.
Suns star Chris Paul (protocols) is out for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals vs. the Clippers.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 20, 2021
Chris Paul is hoping to reach and win the first NBA title of his impressive Hall of Fame career. He has long been one of the NBA’s best point guards, but his teams have hit a wall in the playoffs.
To get to the Finals, he’ll have to go through the franchise that he spent six seasons with: the Clippers. Paul made five of his 11 All-Star Games with the team, topping out at the Western Conference Semifinals three times. He broke through to the Western Conference Finals in 2018 with the Houston Rockets, falling to the Golden State Warriors in seven games. Paul missed the last two games of that series due to injury, both Rockets losses.
Now, he has another prime shot to reach the NBA Finals with the young Phoenix Suns. Hopefully he can clear protocols and get back in time to make a serious impact on the series.
Suns-Clippers Game 1 tips off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon.