Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said he has decided to hold Chris Paul out of the opener of the team's Western Conference semifinal series against the Houston Rockets on Monday night at Toyota Center because of the strained left hamstring Paul suffered Saturday during Game 7 of the first round.
“I just don’t think he was healthy enough to play,” Rivers said. “I guess in a Game 7 he probably could have played, I’m not even sure with that. I just don’t think the risk is worth it.”
Rivers would not name his starting point guard but said Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers and Lester Hudson would share the ball-handling duties.
Doc Rivers said he had decided Paul wouldn’t play Monday unless trainer Jasen Powell told him that Paul was not at risk of reaggravating his injury.
“They were going to have to change my mind more than tell me he was healthy,” Rivers said.
Rivers, a former All-Star point guard, said he had suffered a similar injury in his playing days.
“I just don’t like playing with it,” Rivers said. “It’s just not worth it because if you reinjure that, then you’re done and it’s not worth the risk.”
Resting Paul would give him four days of rest should he return for Game 2 on Wednesday.
“It could be two games, it could be one, we don’t know that yet,” Rivers said.
Paul sustained the injury in the first quarter of the Clippers’ victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of their first-round series on Saturday.
Paul returned midway through the second quarter and finished with 27 points, including the game-winning running bank shot with one second left over the outstretched hand of Tim Duncan.
Rivers said Paul talked to him about possibly playing against the Rockets on Monday but Rivers didn’t want to hear it.
“There are certain things, a knee or something, and you say, ‘OK, we’ll see what you’ve got,’ ” Rivers said. “This is one of those, ‘I don’t want to see what you have because if you’re wrong, then you’re wrong for the series and it’s not worth the risk.’ ”