OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr expressed sympathy for Houston Rockets star guard Chris Paul, who is sidelined for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals due to a strained right hamstring.
Paul, a 13-year veteran who had never before advanced to the conference finals, played a major role putting the Rockets in position to have a chance to close out the defending champion Warriors on Saturday night. But his availability for the remainder of the series is in doubt due to the injury he suffered in the final minute of the Rockets’ Game 5 win, adding to Paul’s frustrating history of playoff injuries.
“More than anything, I feel bad for Chris,” Kerr said before Game 6 at Oracle Arena. “The guy’s a phenomenal player and competitor and pretty much willed his team the last two games. He’s just been haunted by these types of injuries in his career, and it’s a shame. I hate when anybody gets hurt.”
This is the third time in the last four postseasons that Paul has been sidelined by an injury. The LA Clippers split the first two games of the 2015 West semifinals against the Rockets while Paul recovered from a hamstring injury but lost the series in seven games. Paul broke his hand in Game 4 of a 2015 first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, who came back from a 2-1 deficit to eliminate the Clippers in six games.
Paul traveled with the Rockets to Oakland so he could be on the bench for Game 6. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said he thought it was important for Paul to be with the team and provide moral support.
• ESPN Forecast: Can Celtics, Rockets hold on?
• Can Rockets beat Warriors without CP3?
• Trevor Ariza is easy to miss but shouldn’t be
• Answering the big questions in East finals
• The grief behind Kyle Korver’s playoff run
• 13 moments that help shape LeBron’s story
• NBA offseason guides for eliminated teams
• Tickets on Vivid Seats
“Our doctors are here, so he can get the same type of treatment, plus he doesn’t want to miss this,” D’Antoni said. “I mean, he’s worked his whole career to be here and he’s very responsible for us getting here, so he needs to be here.
“I’m sure deep in – he’s going to keep it inside a little bit — but he’s devastated. He has to be. We’re all devastated for him. At the same time, we’ll rally and do what’s right.”
The Rockets have not ruled out Paul for a potential Game 7, but hamstring strains typically take at least two weeks to heal. Paul is doing everything possible to expedite that process, but he’s not able to run at this point.
“He’ll play as soon as he can,” D’Antoni said. “As soon as he’s able to walk or run, he’ll do it. There was no shot at it today. Then we’ll see going forward, but he’s getting treatments around the clock. You never know. The body heals at different rates, and we’ll see what happens.”