Chris Paul Out for Rockets Warriors Game 6 – Houston Facing Long Betting Odds

rockets-warriors-chris-paulThe Houston Rockets have taken a one-game lead over the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Western Conference Finals. And they can move on to the NBA Finals with a victory in Game 6 or Game 7 (if necessary). Unfortunately for the Rockets, taking Game 6 will be much tougher without the services of starting point guard Chris Paul.

The 9-time All-Star hurt his hamstring in the final minute of a 98-94 victory. Paul now has to wait until after the team returns to Houston to be re-evaluated.

“I hope he’s healthy,” Trevor Ariza said Thursday night, before the team scratched Paul from their lineup. “I hope he gets better and, if not, somebody else has to step up and do what we’ve been doing all year, step in and try to help this team win.”

Let’s discuss how the injury happened, how bad it is, and what Paul’s absence does to Houston’s chances of winning Game 6.

Paul Couldn’t Get Off Floor After Win

chris-paul-rockets-injuryPaul’s injury occurred after he took a shot in the lane within the final minute of Game 5. His hamstring was hurting so badly that he continued to sit on the floor while Golden State charged down the court with a 5-on-4 advantage.

But the Rockets got some help when Quinn Cook missed a wide-open three-pointer. Meanwhile, Paul sat on the floor 50 feet away watching the action. It was immediately clear that he wouldn’t be able to resume playing in the last seconds.

He checked out of the game with 22.7 seconds left and sat uncomfortably on the bench. He only briefly got up to see what was being said during a timeout.

Following the game, Paul limped to Houston’s locker room and avoided speaking to reporters as he was getting treatment. Head coach Mike D’Antoni said that the team trainers would “do whatever they could do” for Paul and that it’ll be “time for somebody else to step up” if he can’t play.

D’Antoni continued by saying, “We’ve got plenty of guys over there that will have some fresh legs, that’s for sure. So we’ll be all right.”

It’s already clear that Paul won’t be available for the sixth game. This is tough for the Rockets, given that they’ve mainly been using a six-man rotation in the last two games. Gerald Green, who’s been playing around 15 minutes as a seventh man, is likely to get more minutes at Oracle Arena.

How does Paul’s Injury Impact the Team?

The loss of Paul will severely limit the team’s chances of winning. He’s perhaps the main reason why the Rockets were able to topple Golden State in the last contest, as he scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half.

Paul’s contributions are crucial on a night when star James Harden was struggling from the field. Harden made just 5-of-21 shots, including 0-for-11 from three-point range.

It’s entirely likely that The Beard will bounce back in the sixth game of the series. But then again, Harden is infamous for declining as playoff series wear on. This is even more possible when considering that he’ll have to carry a bigger load with Paul out.

Rockets Warriors Game 6 Odds

You can see from our preview of Game 6 that Houston doesn’t stand much chance without their starting point guard. The point spread is +12.5, which is about as high as it gets in the playoffs.

Of course, Houston still has some solid players who can step up like Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, and Clint Capela. But nobody is giving them much of a chance to win a Game 6 that they don’t really need at Oracle. This is even more the case when considering that Golden State has won 15 straight games in their home arena.

The Rockets’ most-realistic hope to finishing off the series is for Paul to be near 100% for a potential/likely Game 7. But he must heal up quickly in order for this to happen.

Another Lost Clippers’ Season with Chris Paul Injury?

For the past five seasons, the L.A. Clippers have been perennial championship contenders. They again entered the 2016-17 season as one of the five teams in the championship conversation. But with the recent injury to point guard Chris Paul, is this yet another lost season for the Clippers?

Earlier this week, it was announced that Paul will miss 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb. This is a massive blow to LA’s title hopes since Paul is having another fine season, averaging 17.5 points, 9.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.3 steals. Just as important, he’s the locker room leader and the glue that holds this team together.

This doesn’t mean that the Clippers are destined to fall off to the level of the Phoenix Suns. They still have Blake Griffin (21.2 points), DeAndre Jordan (12.7), JJ Redick (15.5), and Jamal Crawford (11.4) to supply offense. But without Paul, this team just isn’t the same.

Of course, the 6-8 week timetable means that Paul will probably be back in March. But the question is, where will they be in the standings?

Sitting at 29-16, they’re currently fourth in the Western Conference, which at least gives them home-court advantage in the first round. But the Utah Jazz have an identical record, while the Oklahoma City Thunder (25-19) and Memphis Grizzlies (26-20) aren’t far behind.

If LA falls behind any of these teams, they enter the playoffs as a lower seed without home court in any round. This is a terrifying prospect for a title contender when considering elite teams like Golden State and San Antonio, as well as a resurgent Houston Rockets club.

Missed Opportunities in the Past

la-clippers-2017Before Golden State’s championship season in 2015, it was the Clippers that many believed would come out of the West bracket. They toppled a veteran San Antonio team in the first round, then bolted out to a 3-1 lead over the Rockets. Unfortunately, LA blew the final three games and exited in the semifinals for the third time in four years.

Many expected a rebound in 2016 since the Clippers had the exact same core with another season to gel. Even with Blake Griffin injuring his quad, and breaking his hand on the equipment manager’s face, the team finished fourth in the Western Conference and got out to a 2-1 lead against Portland in the first round. Then Paul broke his hand in Game 4, and LA lost the last three games.

It feels like groundhog day since Paul has hurt his hand again, which potentially ruins yet another Clippers season.

Is this Clippers Core Doomed?

On paper, it seems like LA should be right up there with San Antonio and Golden State as teams that are battling for Western Conference supremacy.

They have a great core like the Warriors. And now, they finally have a solid bench with Austin Rivers (11.3 points), Marreese Speights (10.4), Raymond Felton (7.4), and Luc Mbah a Moute (6.5).

blake-griffin-chris-paulTo top it off, Paul averaged 24 points against Golden State last year, showing that he rises to the occasion when tested by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Throw in that Griffin has gotten even better this season, Jordan is the low-post threat the Warriors don’t have, and Redick can shoot just as good/quick as Thompson and Curry, and you have a team that should push the Warriors.

Will LA get another chance if 2017 results in yet another lost season? Griffin, Paul, and Redick can all be free agents this summer. And while LA can re-sign them, this would push the payroll to $150 million, resulting in $100 million in luxury-tax payments — all for a team that hasn’t made the conference finals, let alone played for a championship.

Owner Steve Ballmer ($29 billion net worth) can afford this hit. But will he consider $100 million in luxury-tax penalties a worthy investment?

Moreover, will Paul stick around if the team falters yet again? Will Doc Rivers continue coaching this squad if they lose Paul and have to rebuild? Likely not considering that Toronto gets their 2017 first-round pick, while Memphis gets their 2019 first-round selection (lottery protected).

Blake Griffin Returning from Injury Soon

The one bright spot in this mess for the Clippers is that Blake Griffin is set to return from a right knee injury that has sidelined him since mid-December. As reported by the LA Times, Griffin hopes to be back on the court this week.

“It’s as close as I can be, I think,” Griffin said regarding the procedure he had on Dec. 20 to remove loose bodies in his knee. “It was good to get some contact in yesterday. So it’s good to get some like real work in besides just running and shooting. It’s kind of up to them.”

blake-griffin-clippersAs Rivers explained, Griffin has been progressing well over the last week.

“He’s had some contact, it just hasn’t been full court,” said Rivers. “He’s had a bunch of one-on-ones. He’s playing. He’s been playing for a good three, four, five days already. He’s good.”

The power forward underwent the procedure because his lateral and twisting movements were hampered by the right knee.

“I needed to take care of it, needed to get it done,” said Griffin. “Being back out there, I feel so much better than the last three or four weeks before. It’s January. You hate missing games. You hate leaving your teammates out there. But I think the long-term health is more important.”

Griffin was having a strong season before the injury, averaging 21.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. And the good news is that he’s stepped up in the absence of Paul, averaging 27.5 points when his teammate was out for 14 regular-season games in 2014.

Perfect Scenario for LA

While things look bad with Paul set to miss 20-some games with a hand injury, it’s not entirely over for the Clippers.

In the perfect scenario, Griffin will quickly get back in tune and improve his scoring average; Crawford, Rivers, and Redick will fill in more buckets; and Jordan will continue being the rim protector and fierce rebounder that he’s always been.

If this happens, and they hold onto home court long enough for Paul to return, they’ll have an edge over a young Utah Jazz team.

Provided they bounce this up-and-coming squad — or whoever they face — in the first round, LA could be set for a conference semifinals date with the Warriors.

Ever since knocking Golden State out in the first round in 2014, the Clippers have felt they have the edge over the Warriors. If they can meet the consensus’ favored team in the conference semis, LA will relish the chance to play Golden State with everything on the line.

But a lot must happen before then, namely getting through the Paul injury and staying within striking distance of home court in the first round.