Los Angeles Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul injured his left thumb during the second quarter of the Clippers 22-point victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night. Paul was fighting over the top of a screen set by Thunder center Joffrey Lauvergne when he collided awkwardly with Thunder MVP-candidate Russell Westbrook. Westbrook had stopped on a dime, as he often does, to launch a shot from behind the arc. It has been reported that Paul is set to miss 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb, which is a huge blow for the Clippers.
Clippers say guard Chris Paul will undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb & is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) January 18, 2017
It was immediately apparent after the collision that Paul was hurt. During a subsequent Clipper time-out, Paul headed straight back to the locker room with team trainer Jasen Powell for x-rays. He did not return. Prior to exiting the game, Paul had collected 8 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal in 13 minutes of play.
The Impact of Chris Paul’s Injury
Flashback to Game 4 of The Portland Series
Paul kicked a chair and was visibly upset leaving the court, giving fans a flashback to Game 4 of the Clippers playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers last season. Paul left that game in a similar fashion after sustaining a hand injury. It would later be revealed that Paul had fractured his right hand, dashing the Clippers’ hopes of any post-season glory.
Felton Exceeding Expectations as Paul’s Back-Up
Veteran point guard Raymond Felton continued to demonstrate his value to the Clippers franchise after Paul left the floor. Felton contributed 15 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block in 27 minutes against the Thunder. Felton has looked energized and aggressive off the bench, a trend Clippers fans hope continues.
Paul is Necessary for Clippers’ Postseason Success
Despite the solid play of Felton and the imminent return of Blake Griffin, should Paul’s injury linger into the postseason, the Clippers likelihood of making it out of even the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs is slim to none. Paul is simply too critical to the franchise. No one else on the squad comes close to matching Paul in terms of basketball I.Q. and the ability to move the ball and direct the Clippers offense. His loss is devastating for a team that is so reliant on their floor general.
LOS ANGELES, USA – FEBRUARY 22: Chris Paul (3) of LA Clippers reacts during NBA basketball game between Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Sunsat Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, United States on February 22, 2016. (Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)