The Phoenix Suns will head into their first Western Conference Finals game in more than a decade without their leader. The team announced on Saturday evening that Chris Paul, who has been in the NBA’s health and safety protocols Wednesday, has not been cleared in time to suit up against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
The Suns make it official and say Chris Paul, who remains in the league’s health and safety protocols, is out for Sunday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Clippers.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 20, 2021
It’s an unfortunate bit of news for Paul and the Suns, as he’s spearheaded their attack all season long and has helped turn them into a legitimate NBA title contender. On the year, Paul averaged 16.4 points, 8.9 steals, 4.1 assists, and 1.4 steals in 31.4 minutes per game, serving as a steady hand that has given the team a dimension they lacked last season. And of course, any game that Paul misses in this series will be particularly ironic due to the fact that he tried to break through and make the conference finals during his tenure with the Clippers but always came up a little short — now, Paul and the Clippers are standing in one another’s ways of their first Finals berths.
It is unclear when Paul, a second-team All-NBA selection this season, will be cleared to take the floor in the series. When the team announced that Paul entered the protocols, it said that he’d be out indefinitely, and while that could obviously mean that Paul misses an extended chunk of time, the obvious hope from the Suns’ point of view is that he’ll be able to return as soon as possible.