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Chris Paul playing through wrist and finger issues

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Can the All-NBA point guard recover in time to lead the Phoenix Suns to the championship?

2021 NBA Finals - Game Four Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

He has not been listed on any injury reports since being cleared of COVID-19 in the Western Conference Finals, but Suns guard Chris Paul embodies every middle-aged person in that he seemingly deals with some random new pain on a daily basis.

In Game 4 of the Finals, not only was Paul’s right index finger taped but also his left wrist. He’s committed 15 turnovers in the last three games alone, 17 total in 4 Finals games, and has only a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio in the Finals.

Game 4 was his worst outing, posting only 10 points and 7 assists while committing 5 turnovers, including one that basically ended the Suns chances for a win in the final minute. For a great breakdown on Paul’s Game 4, check out this film study by our own Trevor Booth yesterday.

To be sure, lots of players are dealing with some kind of pain at this point in the season. Devin Booker has a broken nose, Cam Payne a sore ankle, Torrey Craig a sore knee and Giannis Antetokounmpo a sore knee too. I’m sure there’s others.

Still, it seems that Chris Paul is the kind of accumulating nagging issues lately even though his coach insist he’s “fine” and Paul himself says “I’m good. Good.”

In the first round, he took an unexpected shot to the side of the head from his own teammate and came down with a debilitating shoulder stinger that deadened his arm for a few days. The stinger affected his shooting, dribbling and passing for the entire series.

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns - Game Two Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

By the end of the series, Paul was looking healthier and then against the Denver Nuggets he played like an MVP candidate.

Problem solved! Injuries averted!

Then just as the Suns qualified for the Western Conference Finals by sweeping the Nuggets, Paul comes down with COVID-19 and misses the first two games. When he returned, he looked like a shadow of himself, unable to make a shot and committing a lot of turnovers. Oh by the way, the first two fingers on his right hand were taped together for three games (no mention on the injury report) when he shot 31% from the field and committed 2.7 turnovers per game.

Los Angeles Clippers v Phoenix Suns - Game Five Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Only after he removed the tape and exploded for 41 series-clinching points in Game 6 did he reveal he’d suffered partially torn ligaments in those fingers in his first game back from COVID-19.

And now in the Finals, Paul is struggling again. He is shooting well, but turning the ball over more than usual at the rate of 4.3 per game over the last four games.

2021 NBA Finals - Game Two Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Those 4.3 turnovers per game are a stark aberration for Paul.

You could choose to credit (and a lot of people do) the Bucks’ Jrue Holiday with disrupting Paul, but Holiday had never had that kind of effect on Paul before. In 24 prior head to head matchups over 11 seasons, Paul has only averaged just 2.2 turnovers per game matched up against Holiday, and Paul has won 17 of those 24 games.

But you can also point to yet another tape job, this one on Paul’s left wrist. Now he’s got torn ligaments in his right index and forefinger and an apparent (unreported) sprain in his left wrist.

Here’s the breakdown of scoring and passing for Paul throughout these playoffs. Can we please just have the Paul that played against the Nuggets back? Or even the one that scored 41 in the clinching Game 6 against the Clippers? kthx.

Yes, Paul just laid a dud in two games in Milwaukee, and these games are so important we cannot emotionally handle any more duds.

But this is the same Chris Paul who, with all the issues, just had a three-game stretch of 41 points (game 6 closeout), 34 and 23 points where the Suns went 3-0 and went from a tenuous WCF lead to a 2-0 in the NBA Finals.

What should the Suns do now?

On one hand, they can count on Paul doing what he did to the Clippers — struggling till it was time to slam the door closed.

On the other hand, they can wonder if Paul is just too injured to be effective the remainder of these Finals.

The good followers of the Burns and Gambo show on 98.7 believe the former, but it’s certainly not unanimous.

What do you all think?

Let’s do our own poll.

Poll

What to do about Chris Paul?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Ride with him
    (448 votes)
  • 23%
    Keep him on a short leash
    (165 votes)
  • 14%
    Start Cam Payne
    (101 votes)
714 votes total Vote Now