The Point God is back.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, veteran point guard Chris Paul plans to return to the Phoenix Suns starting five after missing the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Clippers due to health and safety protocols.
Paul, who only missed two games in the regular season due to injury, has has faced his share of adversity in the playoffs; after injuring his shoulder against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, the floor general tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.
BREAKING: Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul intends to make his return for Game 3 of WCF against the Los Angeles Clippers barring unforeseen setback, league sources tell @YahooSports. https://t.co/UgzGxX4aaZ— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 23, 2021
Fortunately for Phoenix fans, the Suns have been excellent even without Paul, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead against the Clippers — including a jaw-dropping buzzer-beating dunk by DeAndre Ayton to win Game 2.
One of the main reasons that the Suns have continued to win has been the excellent play of backup point guard Cameron Payne, who scored 29 points and 9 assists in Game 2 and is averaging 20.0 points and 9.0 assists per game in the series.
Nonetheless, the impact of Paul’s return will be immense.
The 36-year-old floor general has excelled in Phoenix surrounded by a young core.
Paul, averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds this season, has been even better in the playoffs with averages of 25.5 points, 10.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game in the Suns’ semifinals sweep of the Denver Nuggets.
Furthermore, Suns head coach Monty Williams noted that even though Paul has missed about a week of playing time and conditioning, it would be unlikely that Suns give him a minutes restriction.
“ We don’t have the luxury of waiting on anybody right now. These games are so important. Every practice, every film session,” Williams said. “We certainly would see where he’s at when that time comes, but that’s hard to make that judgment just because COVID is so different. You have COVID and the playoffs, you know what I mean? It’s not COVID and the regular season.
“I’m sure if I tried to keep Chris out of the game, we’d have to square off and go toe-to-toe. So we’ll just make that assessment when the time comes,” he continued.