Chris Paul To Play In Game 2 If Healthy, According To Doc Rivers


May 2, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers bench players celebrate after guard Chris Paul (3) made a basket with one second remaining in the fourth quarter of game seven of the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Clippers won 111-109. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

When it was announced that Chris Paul was going to participate in the Clippers’ typical pre-game shootaround prior to the second round series opener against the Houston Rockets, many (knowing Paul’s fiercely competitive nature) assumed that he would be in the starting lineup, despite his ailing hamstring.

Then, an official statement was released from the Clippers’ front office about an hour before tip-off, revealing that Paul’s hamstring — injured during his gritty, clutch performance that sealed the first round for Los Angeles — was severe enough to sideline the 8x All-Star for the game.

Again, assumptions (stemming from Twitter users to NBA analysts) emerged, revolving around Houston’s significantly increased chances of beginning the series with a victory with Paul sporting a stylish, but un-athletic, olive green blazer on the Clippers’ bench.

The Clippers’ emphatic, and even border-line dominant, 117-101 win over Houston in game one reiterated the reason why assuming is often, and rightfully, condemned.

Blake Griffin was exceptional, as he recorded a consecutive triple-double in a playoff game with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists —the first to do so since Jason Kidd in 2002. While Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers would have seized the opportunity to insert the 02’ Kidd and his savvy presence in his lineup to relieve Paul, his son, Austin, did just fine filling Paul’s immensely large shoes as the primary facilitator. Rivers moved the ball efficiently, and he found success shooting—netting 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting.

As the game was winding down to a close, Reggie Miller wondered out loud to his partner Marv Albert (who has clearly about had it with the Hack-A-Jordan/Howard strategy), stating that he believed Doc Rivers should be content with the guaranteed split of the first set of games on the road for the series, and rest Chris Paul again in game two—even if he is physically able to play.

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Ernie, Shaq, and the rest of the guys on Inside NBA discussed this possibility, with conflicting views as expected. While an extra day of rest for a hobbling star in the playoffs is favorable, winning both games on the road to begin a series is a golden opportunity for Los Angeles, and the possibility of returning to the Staples Center already halfway complete with their advancement mission is too sweet to pass up.

Not to mention what a sweep of the two games in Houston by the Clippers would do to the energy level of the Rockets, which was noticeably lacking in the series opener and viewed as a contributing factor to the defeat, even described as “inexcusable” by head coach Kevin McHale.

Doc Rivers has already addressed the situation, saying that if Paul is good-to-go, he’s going onto the hardwood at Toyota Arena in Houston for game two:

"“If he’s healthy he’ll play, if he’s not he won’t. This game was on me. I had no intentions of playing Chris after watching that. The next game will be what the medical staff says. Now, I have to trust what they say.”"

So there you have it, Reggie and Clippers enthusiasts. Chris Paul’s presence in Wednesday night’s game depends on the word of the medical staff, as the opportunity to win both games away from home to open the series is too appealing.

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