Chris Paul was amazing in leading his team to a last-second Game 7 victory over the defending champion Spurs, and his performance was especially impressive when seeing him dealing with a hamstring injury at the very same time.
After completing a series that was an absolute war, the Clippers must regroup less than 48 hours later for Game 1 of their second-round matchup with the Rockets. And they may have to do so with Paul sitting this one out.
Based on how Rivers also sounded, it will be surprising if Paul is available for Game 1 of the Clippers’ second-round series against the Houston Rockets on Monday night.
The well-rested Rockets and the Clippers split their four-game season series. Paul averaged 16.8 points, 9.5 assists and 3.3 assists in 36.3 minutes per game in four contests against the Rockets this season. The Rockets are without injured starting point guard Pat Beverley. And if Paul is out, the Clippers will have to turn to reserve Austin Rivers and seldom-used reserve Lester Hudson.
“Chris may play or may not play the first game, but the game is Monday … my guess right now if I had to guess, I would say no,” Rivers said.
It would be a shame to see the Clippers fall behind against the Rockets early in the series simply due to not being at full strength. But this is why the postseason is such a grind, and why the team left standing at the end has truly earned the right to be called champions.