The Los Angeles Clippers have been steadily surviving since losing All-Star point guard Chris Paul to a separated shoulder. Paul hasn’t played an NBA game since Jan. 3 and the Clippers are 11-6 in the 17 games that he’s missed. However, it seems like the Clippers won’t have to survive much longer.
According to a report from Brad Turner of the L.A. Times, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said that Paul could return as early as Friday, but is even more likely to return on Sunday. The Clippers take on the Toronto Raptors on Friday and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, both games taking place in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.
Before his injury, Paul did enough to legitimately make it not much of a gripe that he’s missed a third of the season and was voted a starter for the All-Star Game. In the 34 games that he’s played this year, Paul averaged 19.6 points, 11.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game while hitting 46.4 percent of his field goal attempts and 35.6 percent of his threes. Moreover, the Clips were better both offensively and defensively with Paul on the floor, largely due to the simple fact that Paul is the best floor general in the league today.
Paul’s return date is far from definite and he could return to action sometime after Sunday, but it seems near certain that the point guard will be in action prior to All-Star Weekend. As the Clippers look to improve their position in the Western Conference over the rest of the season, getting Paul back in the rotation is vital. Darren Collison has been decent as a replacement and Blake Griffin has been playing phenomenally, but it’d be foolish to argue that this team isn’t at their best without Paul at the helm. They’ve persevered without him, but they have to be looking forward to his return, whenever that may be.