Up 2-0 after a dramatic finish on Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns don't seem to need too much help at the moment. Even so, it looks like they'll be getting a big lift as the series moves to Los Angeles, with Chris Paul set to return from COVID-19 protocols to make his series debut against the L.A. Clippers.
Paul was caught up in protocols in the days after the Suns' round two sweep of the Denver Nuggets. The team beat the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the first round to begin this impressive playoff run.
In his absence, the Suns' young stars have come up huge. Devin Booker had an incredible 40 point, 13 rebounds, 11 assist triple-double in Game 1 against the Clippers. In Game 2, DeAndre Ayton was the hero, scoring 24 with 14 boards, and slamming home the game-winning bucket with just 0.9 seconds left on the clock, in one of the signature plays of this NBA season so far.
Backup point guard Cameron Payne also came up huge in Game 2, with a team-high 29 points and nine assists. Now, he'll be relegated back to super-sub duty, as Paul, one of the NBA's headiest veterans, reenters the starting lineup.
"Paul underwent a cardio exam Wednesday morning and passed, which is the final step to clearing the league’s health and safety protocols," Yahoo's Chris Haynes reports. He entered protocols on June 16.
Paul has reportedly been vaccinated. Those who receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines do have a slim chance of contracting the virus, though the vaccines are extremely effective in preventing the vast majority of serious symptoms and outcomes, including hospitalization and death. Paul was asymptomatic, according to Haynes' report.
This season, his first with the Phoenix Suns, Chris Paul averaged 16.4 points and 8.9 assists. In the playoffs, he is averaging 15.7/8.7, though he took things up to another level in the four games against Denver, averaging 25.5 points, 10.2 assists and five rebounds.