It’s official: Chris Paul to play, start for Clippers in Game 3

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LOS ANGELES — It was pretty clear after shootaround that Chris Paul’s hamstring was relatively healthy, and he was going to suit up Friday night for the Clippers for the first time in the series against Houston. Before the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers made it official.

“He’s definitely playing,” Rivers said before Game 3 tipped off, confirming what CP3 had told his teammates earlier in the day. “Minute wise we are definitely going to restrict his minutes. A lot of it will be visually (how he looks), but we will restrict his minutes for sure.”

Rivers said expect closer to 20 minutes than 40 for Paul on Friday night.

Rivers added that they pushed Paul in workouts the last couple days, making it him come off picks, and try to simulate game action as best as they could.

“He had a good workout,” Rivers said. “He probably got his confidence sky high because we had Sam Cassell workout with him. My guess is he scored every time, just like in Sam’s playing days.”

Paul injured his hamstring late in the first quarter of Game 7 against the Spurs. Paul went to the locker room but came back out and gutted out a fantastic performance, a game that will be part of his legacy including hitting the game winner over the outstretched arm of Tim Duncan.

But once the hamstring strain tightened up the next day Paul was sidelined. He sat out Game 1, an upset Clipper win in Houston, which set the stage for CP3 to rest game 2.

In Game 3, Rivers doesn’t want Paul to hold back.

“I don’t want him to hold back, you can’t nurse anything,” Rivers said. “Obviously you have to be smart with it, but you just have to go play. You know that team we’re playing? They don’t care. They really don’t. They don’t care what we have; they are going to attack no matter what we have. So if you’re going to go out on the field, or the wood, or whatever we call the court, you have to be ready to play.”

He said the goal is to have both Paul and Blake Griffin facilitate the offense.