The Houston Rockets are just one win away from going to the NBA Finals, but a hamstring injury (courtesy of NBA.com) to Chris Paul could derail their chances. It would also hamper one of the more gutsy performances anyone would ever see in playoff basketball.
Chris Paul injured his hamstring within the last two minutes versus the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals. It is an injury that normally would force a player to sit out several games. According to ESPN, Chris Paul will be re-evaluated by the Houston Rockets’ team doctors today.
The series is going back to Golden State for Game 6. However, there are questions regarding Chris Paul’s status.
Can the Houston Rockets afford sitting Chris Paul against the Golden State Warriors? That was the question in the back of everyone’s mind after the Rockets held off the Warriors 98-94. Momentum could also be on the line for the Rockets in Game 6. Chris Paul’s injury came at a horrible time.
Chris Paul led the Rockets, who roared back on several occasions last night. He scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half while being hobbled by a couple of nagging injuries.
Chris Paul pulled his hamstring after going up for a layup that could have actually put the Rockets comfortably ahead, given the time left on the clock. The Rockets was able to hold on to the lead, but it was harrowing watching them cling to life in the closing seconds.
The Houston Rockets cannot defeat the Golden State Warriors without Chris Paul. That is the general assumption at least. Paul is one of the Rockets’ better defensive players. He also helps the Rockets remain balanced on the offensive end.
Potentially not having Chris Paul in the lineup for Game 6 forces the Rockets to rely heavily on James Harden. It is a strategy that has worked for them in the past. However, beating the Warriors would require other Rockets players to have career defining games. The Rockets’ best option for this is Eric Gordon.
It is too soon for the Rockets to rule Chris Paul out for Game 6. If the results of his MRI comes back clean and his hamstring is just a strain, Paul may gut it out again.
The Houston Rockets would prefer to finish the Golden State Warriors in six games. That way, the Rockets can rest up and be ready for the NBA Finals.