Chris Paul’s shoulder injury provides a clear path for the No. 7 seed Los Angeles to get past No. 2 seed Phoenix. Indeed the Lakers took advantage and evened the first round series at 1-1 last night. The team said that Paul had a “shoulder contusion.” By video, my impression was more shoulder subluxation with potential labral damage.
There was an anonymous local source that indicated a stinger for Paul. However, that does not seem to be the case, as a stinger (a stretch of brachial plexus) usually resolves quickly. The mechanism of injury did not fit stinger. The kinesio tape applied to Paul for Game 2 also fits more with shoulder injury.
The Suns point guard tried to play through, but was clearly hampered. He sat out long stretches and avoided use of his right arm at times. Paul played only 23 minutes and finished with only six points and five assists. He was notably on the bench at crunch time when the Suns tried to make a late rally to win.
The bad news for Phoenix is that this type of injury is likely to linger through the playoff series and potentially beyond. An injury in Game 1 and a lackluster performance carrying over to Game 2 doesn’t bode well for Paul or the Suns.
Paul has a long injury history, including a 2014 separated shoulder, all unrelated to his current situation. Expect that he has already undergone or will undergo an MRI to assess for labral damage.
The one and only time a 7th seed upset a 2nd seed in a seven-game first round series happened eleven years ago. History may repeat itself once again this year. It seems with a hampered Paul, Lebron James and company now have an easier road to Round Two.
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