Suns point guard Chris Paul exited Monday’s Game 2 loss to the Nuggets in the second half due to left groin tightness and didn’t return, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. It’s unclear whether the future Hall of Famer will miss additional time or if he’ll be able to return for Game 3 in Phoenix on Friday with his team facing a 2-0 deficit.
The injury appeared to occur with just under five minutes left in the third quarter when Paul attempted to box out Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and grabbed at his left groin afterward (NBA.com video link). Paul, who checked out a couple possessions later, didn’t speak to reporters after the game, but head coach Monty Williams said the veteran “couldn’t push off” his injured leg, according to MacMahon.
“We’re not quite sure what it is right now, but it seems to be something in the groin area,” Williams said. “We’ll find out more (on Tuesday).”
“All we can do is hope he has a speedy recovery,” Paul’s backcourt partner Devin Booker said during his postgame media session. “We’re going to be behind him. We’re going to hold it down while he is out — or if he’s out — and just take it from there.”
Backup point guard Cameron Payne, who was dealing with a lower back injury when the postseason began, played nearly 17 minutes on Tuesday after logging just eight minutes in the Suns’ first six playoff games. As long as he remains healthy, Payne figures to take on a larger role if Paul has to miss any time.
As Doug Haller of The Athletic observes, Phoenix may also have to lean even more on Booker to initiate the offense if CP3 is unavailable, though Williams is wary of asking Booker to do more than he already has.
“I think it’s a lot,” the Suns’ head coach said after Booker played nearly 45 minutes on Tuesday. “He was probably more tired than he would admit, but with Chris off the floor, it puts a lot of pressure on him. So I got to figure that out.”
Paul has a history of bad injury luck in the postseason. As MacMahon details, the 37-year-old has missed eight career playoff games due to health issues. Paul’s most memorable absence occurred in the 2018 Western Conference Finals, when a hamstring strain cost him the final two games of the Rockets’ 4-3 loss to Golden State.