NBA Playoffs, Phoenix Suns

Suns: Chris Paul officially ruled out for Game 1 vs. Clippers

The Phoenix Suns will not have starting point guard Chris Paul on the court for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 2021 Western Conference Finals will officially begin on Sunday, as the Phoenix Suns host the LA Clippers. Earlier on Saturday, the Clippers announced that star Kawhi Leonard would not be active for Game 1 due to a sprained right knee. Hours later, the Suns officially ruled out a star of their own.

On Saturday evening, the Suns announced that Chris Paul is inactive for Game 1 due to being in the NBA’s health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19.

Suns: Chris Paul ruled out for Game 1 of Western Conference Finals vs. Clippers

Paul’s chances of playing in Game 1 were rather slim, as the team announced that he was still in protocol earlier Saturday.

At the start of the NBA’s eventful news day on Wednesday, it was revealed Paul was placed in the league’s protocols after receiving a positive test for COVID-19. Players normally spend between 10-14 days in protocol, but Paul’s stint could be shorter due to him receiving the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year.

After averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in 70 regular-season games, Paul suffered a scare earlier in Phoenix’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers after suffering an apparent shoulder injury. However, he ultimately got better and did not miss any playing time. Through 10 playoff games, Paul has tallied an average of 15.7 points, 8.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 50.9 percent from the field.

With Paul out for at least Game 1, the Suns will likely rely on Cameron Payne to fill in as starter. In the playoffs, Payne has averaged 10.2 points, 2.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game while shooting 41.8 percent from the floor. Even without Paul in the lineup, the Suns still have Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton to lead the way.

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