Doc Rivers on Chris Paul's status for Game 2 vs. Rockets: 'I just don't really know'
All Chris Paul probably wants for his birthday is a healthy hamstring and a chance to get back in the starting lineup when the Los Angeles Clippers face off against the Houston Rockets for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Paul will celebrate his 30th birthday Wednesday at the Toyota Center, either in street clothes on the bench or in uniform on the floor.
"I'd say 50-50. I just don't really know," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday. "My gut, I would say before (Monday), I thought there would be a good chance. I'd probably lean that way. I just don't know. He looked good walking today. I really don't have a clue right now. I'll find out more (Tuesday night)."
Paul, who has a strained left hamstring, is averaging 22.7 points per game and 7.9 assists in the postseason. His absence didn't hurt the Clippers Monday as they were powered by another triple double from Blake Griffin and productive minutes from every other player in a 117-101 win over Houston in Game 1.
A solid outing from the point guard-by-committee of Austin Rivers, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Lester Hudson helped the Clippers minimize the effect of Paul being out. Though it's not just what he does offensively, it's his leadership as well.
Doc Rivers went around to each player in the locker room and told him before the game, "You're Austin Rivers. You're J.J. Redick. You're Blake Griffin. Do what you do."
In other words ... be you. Don't try to be Chris Paul, because no one can.
"We're a team," Austin Rivers said. "We have depth. We all believe in each other. ... (Outside) it was like, Chris isn't playing, what are they going to do? We're a deep team."
Teams hope to at least split on the road in the postseason, and the Clippers already have done that. But they'd love to win another and get Paul back in the lineup.
There are reasons to think the Clippers might not want to play him Wednesday because they already have one win in the bank, but Rivers re-iterated that he wouldn't sit Paul for rest.
"If he can play, he'll play," Rivers said. "You just want to make sure he's healthy."
Paul looked and talked like a coach in Game 1 from the bench. He pumped his fists, high-fived players, was in on huddles and told teammates what he was seeing on the floor. He also told Doc Rivers he had never sweated so much.
The Clippers weren't sweating it out when they were down 13 points in the first half, then used a 37-point third quarter to pull away from Houston and James Harden, who had 9 turnovers the day after he learned he finished second in MVP voting.
Paul may be motioning and directing the Clippers offense from the bench again on Wednesday. Then again, maybe he won't play again until the series returns to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday.
Even if he doesn't play in Game 2, he still has plenty to celebrate: A milestone birthday.