Chris Paul expected to return to Clippers lineup Friday vs. Sacramento

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Chris Paul has missed seven of the last eight Clippers’ games due to a hamstring strain — games Blake Griffin also missed — and the Clippers went 2-6 in that stretch with a bottom seven offense and defense. The Clippers have had success with Griffin out in the past, but they did it with a heavy dose of Paul/DeAndre Jordan pick-and-rolls. Take CP3 out of the equation, and things get ugly fast.

Which is why Paul returning to the lineup Friday against Sacramento is such good news for a Clippers team looking to turn things around. He should be good to go, as reported by ESPN.

LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers said guard Chris Paul might be able to play Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

Rivers added that Paul fully participated in Wednesday’s shootaround prior to the Clippers’ 115-106 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

“Chris looked great today, had a full workout, played up and down,” Rivers said before the game. “He looked terrific. We’ll wait to see how he feels tomorrow. Obviously, again, if it was a playoff game, Chris would be playing. But we just want to make sure he doesn’t have any soreness. If he doesn’t, then he’s cleared.”

The Clippers fell to the four seed in the West during the CP3-less slide, and they are now four games back of three seed Houston (and just a game up on five-seed Utah). That matters: If the Clippers are the fourth seed when the playoffs start, that means if they win their first-round series they likely get Golden State in the second round. And if the Clippers are out in the second round again this season, there is going to be some real soul-searching both by the organization, as well as Paul and Griffin, both of whom will opt out and be free agents. We could see big changes to the Clippers next summer.