The Phoenix Suns bought some time to rest up after beating the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals. Time that Chris Paul used wisely before his first NBA Finals appearance in his 16-year career.
Paul put on a clinic of how an NBA point guard should set the tone in the first game, scoring 32 points and dishing out 9 assists in the Suns’ 118-105 over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Along with CP3 twisting his left ankle on this shot in the third quarter, he’s playing with a hand injury suffered in the previous round.
Paul revealed after the Suns’ Game 6 win that he has been playing with partially torn ligaments in his right hand which is incredible considering he tied his playoff career-high of 41 points (Including 30 points in the second half). He’s the first player since Shaquille O’Neal back in 2000 to finish a conference finals contest with 40 points or more with no turnovers. Michael Jordan was the last guard to do it in 1998.
The hand injury is yet another in a growing list of physical ailments for CP3. First, he suffered a shoulder injury in the opening game of the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers. Then he spent time in the NBA Health and Safety protocols between the second round and the conference finals. Paul spoke on how time away from the game to rest has helped him.
“Each day that we’ve had off has been really good, and we all get a chance to rest up a little bit before we get it going again,” Paul said, per ESPN.
Chris Paul, who Deandre Ayton calls “the best thing that has happened” in his career, is the early favorite for the NBA Finals MVP according to NBA.com. He’s averaging 19.0 points, 8.7 assists, 1.1 steals per game in the playoffs.
Phoenix will run it back against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight for Game 2.