Rockets point guard Chris Paul will be sidelined for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday due to a right hamstring strain, the team confirmed today (via Twitter). According to the Rockets, Paul will be re-evaluated after the club returns to Houston.
Paul suffered the injury during the final moments of the Rockets’ Game 5 win over the Warriors, having reportedly felt “a twinge” when he landed after taking a shot on one of the team’s final possessions. As Golden State took the ball back up the court, Paul got to his feet but was unable to get back on defense. He came out of the game at the next whistle, as Houston held on for the victory.
It’s a devastating blow for both the Rockets and for Paul, who has dealt with injuries in the past and has never made an NBA Finals appearance during his 13-year NBA career. With CP3 on the shelf, Houston figures to lean more heavily on Eric Gordon to make plays out of the backcourt alongside James Harden. However, the Rockets – who had already been playing a shortened rotation – will face an uphill battle in Game 6 with the series headed back to Oakland.
If the Warriors pull out Game 6, it would set up a potential Game 7 back in Houston on Monday. Paul will certainly do everything in his power to try to return to the court for that deciding contest, though Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) suggests there’s an “unmistakable” pessimism emanating from Houston about the point guard’s potential availability.