The status for Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul remains unchanged. He is listed as “out” for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals per Monday evening’s NBA injury report.
“There’s no update on Chris,” Williams said after Monday’s practice. “Nothing’s changed.”
Paul remains out indefinitely after entering the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols last Wednesday. He sat out the team’s 120-114 win on Sunday against the LA Clippers in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals as Devin Booker put together his first career triple-double.
Paul joined the team for a FaceTime call in the locker room after the Game 1 victory, but it’s unclear when the point guard will be allowed to rejoin the Suns physically.
Every teammate counts.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) June 20, 2021
“It’s always good to see his face,” Williams said. “I just think it was based on the fact we were able to win the game. So, everybody was in that winning game mood, obviously. He and I have talked every day about our team and what we’re seeing in other playoff games, and just trying to improve. I’m not sure if he called or somebody else called him, but when I walked in, he was on FaceTime. So, he became a part of the locker room.”
The team’s leader and steadying influence at crucial points in games, Paul averaged 25.5 points and 10.3 rebounds during Phoenix’s sweep of the Denver Nuggets in the West semifinals. Paul is reportedly vaccinated against COVID-19, which means there’s a chance he could be cleared to return to the team more quickly than players that entered the NBA’s Health and Safety protocols during the regular season.
Paul is quarantining in Los Angeles, and, per a report, is not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. He needs to return at least two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart, in addition to undergoing a cardiac exam before he can be cleared to play.
The league loosened some of its protocols back in March as players and coaches around the NBA began receiving coronavirus vaccines.
With Paul out of the mix for Game 1, Phoenix used Cameron Payne in the starting lineup. Payne stepped up with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting and 9 assists in 29 minutes, as each of the Suns’ starters finished the game in double-figures in scoring.
Veteran E’Twaun Moore took Payne’s place in the rotation with the reserves, and dished two assists in nearly 11 minutes.
Williams admitted to feeling unsure about how Phoenix might fare without Paul in the lineup against an LA Clippers team missing star forward Kawhi Leonard, who missed Game 1 and will miss Game 2 as well.
“I knew we would compete. I knew that the guys would have great intentions on defense and try to make the right plays, but there’s no sample size for that,” Williams said. “Western Conference finals, you’re without Chris Paul, you know, you’re hoping. I thought Book managed the game well. I thought Cam [Payne], who came back in after his first bit, he managed it well, but I thought there was a collective effort. Jae [Crowder] was huge yesterday talking to the guys on the floor, getting them into their spots.
“Mikal [Bridges] and Cam [Johnson] and Torrey [Craig] were spaced properly. I didn’t know what to expect as far as from a production standpoint, but I knew the guys would compete. I knew we would try to do the right things. It’s just hard to forecast when you don’t have Chris on the floor.”
The Suns and Clippers tip off Game 2 on Tuesday at Phoenix Suns Arena.
“I would say, with Chris’ situation, I don’t really know 100% of the timeline, so [I] just try and stay steady,” Moore said. “Just know that’s when you need the full team. You need everyone. Every little thing matters. So, I think we just stay together as a team, and we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to keep pushing. When he comes back, it’s going to make it even greater and even sweeter.”
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