Chris Paul, star guard for the Rockets will not be play in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. The player strained his right hamstring in Game 5 playing against the Golden State Warriors. After receiving initial treatment, he remained absent from Game 6. He also underwent round-the-clock therapy to ensure that he is fit on game day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
Coach Mike D’Antoni, who tried to delay his status in the game lineup till Monday was quite disappointed with the news. He said, “There was just no way. Everybody came to the same conclusion. There was just no way.”
Sources close to the team have suggested that he has sustained a Grade 2 injury in the hamstring. They suggested that the Houston team everything they could to help him recover on time, “but it’s just not humanly possible.” ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell suggests that it could take him weeks to recover from the injury. If the Houston team wins the Western Conference, they may have to enter the NBA finals without him, at least for the initial few games.
A grade 2 hamstring injury has created troubles for the team in the past as well. On New Year’s Eve, James Harden suffered a hamstring strain that kept him out of the game till Jan. 18. The 13-year veteran Paul is a nine-time all-star player, but this was the first time that he entered the finals of the Western Conference. During this postseason, he averaged 21.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists. The defending Champions Golden State Warriors are looking for their title defense this season. If the Rockets can win without Paul, he could be a part of his first ever NBA finals as well.
He tried to test his hamstring on the court on Monday, but it proved inadequate to return to the game. D’Antoni commented on his condition, “He couldn’t explode off it, couldn’t push off of it,” D’Antoni said. “Just not ready. I knew it was a long shot from when it happened. Just nature’s got to take care of it. It’s going to be a little bit.”
He further noted, “I’m sure he’s way down and devastated, but like us all, he’s probably excited for the game, to get the win and get him back and we’ll go on.” The team hasn’t mentioned the time it would take for him to recover and return to the court. The Warriors coach Steve Kerr was all praise for him, saying that he is one of the best players in the league. “[Injuries] are part of the playoffs. We’re without Andre [Iguodala]. Different role, obviously.”, he added.
D’Antoni is now in a fix to ensure that his absence doesn’t affect the team’s performance during this crucial game. The teams have tied 3-3 and a small mistake could lead the team to failure. They have already been plagued with players not performing up to their full caliber with Harden shouldering most of the responsibility for the team.