- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Chris Paul‘s previous — and only — trip to the conference finals resulted in the star point guard suffering an injury, forcing him to miss the last two games of the series. 

Now in the conference finals for the second time in his 16-year career, Paul‘s bad luck continues. 

Paul entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols — meaning he either tested positive for the virus or was exposed to someone with the virus, putting his status for the start of the third round “up in the air.”

Paul has been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

The Phoenix Suns do not yet have an opponent and are waiting for the second-round series between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers (tied 2-2) to finish. 

Still, if the virus forces Paul to miss the Suns’ next series, that would be incredibly unfortunate for the 36-year-old, whose career has been partially defined by repeated playoff failures. This year, too, looked like it could be different.

After being traded to Phoenix before the season, Paul arrived at the Suns and instantly transformed them into a title contender. They finished with the league’s second-best record and recently completed an impressive sweep over the Denver Nuggets.

Paul even earned MVP votes and finished fifth in this year’s ballot. In the regular season, he averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game.  To close out Game 4 against Denver, Paul scored 37 points on 14 of 19 shooting, dominating from the mid range. 

In 2018, Paul suffered a hamstring injury when the Houston Rockets led 3-2 in the best-of-seven series over the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Without Paul, the Rockets dropped two straight and were eliminated from the playoffs. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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