Chris Paul said his strained left hamstring was feeling better Wednesday, but Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he doubted that his star point guard would play in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Paul was officially listed as questionable by the team. He acknowledged that the decision whether to play was “really tough” because of his frenetic style of play.
“There’s only one way I know how to play,” said Paul, who spoke with reporters for the first time since he sustained the injury Saturday during the final game of the Clippers’ first-round series. “It’s one of those things where you don’t want to make it any worse than it already is.”
Paul turned 30 on Wednesday and Rivers said rookie C.J. Wilcox would sing “Happy Birthday” on behalf of the team. A better present would be the OK to play. But Paul said the Clippers winning game Game 1 might have made him less antsy about returning for Game 2.
“Well, that definitely didn’t hurt,” Paul said. “I told the guys after last game, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.’ [But teammate] Blake [Griffin] let me know that he needed me.”
Paul spent Game 1 patrolling the bench in a green sports coat, encouraging teammates and giving advice. It wasn’t a role he particularly enjoyed.
“I told them if I was to miss tonight,” Paul said, “I would probably have to take some type of anxiety pill because it’s a lot more nerve-wracking being on the bench than it is in the game. … This is probably a reason why I’ll never coach—not at this level, maybe my AAU kids but not this because this is too stressful.”
Paul said part of the reason he was so emotional after making the go-ahead shot against the San Antonio Spurs with one second left in Game 7 was because he knew that his hamstring would only feel worse in the coming days.
“I was telling our trainer on the bench it was almost a bittersweet moment,” Paul said. “Like, yeah, I’m happy we’re advancing, but I sort of knew I wouldn’t be able to go, at least for that first game.”
Paul said he did not try to talk Rivers into letting him play in Game 1 against the Rockets.
“There wasn’t no convincing,” Paul said. “I knew, you know what I mean. One thing about me, if I can play, I’m going to play, so you don’t even have to worry about it.”