Last night’s Phoenix win is a tale of two injuries. The more obvious one is Anthony Davis going down with an apparent groin injury and missing the entire second half. Despite the fact Davis was having one of his disappearing acts, he left the game with 6 points (2-9 FG), 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 19 minutes; the Lakers missed him on the court. But, another injury story seemed even more relevant.
In games 2 and 3, Chris Paul was basically playing with his left hand – last night he was crucial for the Suns. The veteran point guard dropped an 18/3/9, with 3 steals and 0 turnovers in 32 minutes. 18 points may not seem much, but Paul was the scoring leader for Phoenix and majestically orchestrated the offense. All starters scored in double digits, attacking the Lakers from all areas of the court. All that happened because Paul wouldn’t let his teammates face the Lakers without him, no matter the pain.
Paul wasn’t irrational in his request. He told Monty Williams to give him a few minutes on the court and then judge his ability to contribute in a must-win game for the Suns. The Playoffs started with drama in Utah, when Donovan Mitchell was pulled from the lineup hours before the game. The Suns showed how situations like these are supposed to go down.
“I hadn’t touched a basketball or anything since the last game. We didn’t have a lot of guys that missed a lot of games this season, so we’re used to playing a certain way. I was just glad I could be out there and help.”Chris Paul, ESPN
No one is playing at 100% in the Playoffs. That’s particularly been true this season when the NBA pushed the start of the season early to get back on schedule in ’21/’22. We saw Luka Dončić struggle with an apparent neck injury. Mitchell still doesn’t seem 100%, and Paul obviously still has pain and discomfort. If someone’s injured and has to be protected for their own long-term health, that’s one thing. But these are the Playoffs; it’s go time. You can’t afford to strategize about giving yourself a few more days to go from 70-80%.
No player had more bad luck with injuries in the Playoffs in the past few decades than Chris Paul. It’s time for karma to kick in, and give Paul a chance to play one post-season out without a significant injury. I hope this is the year it happens.