Clippers' Chris Paul, shifting from idle, will gear up to guard Curry

Clippers' Chris Paul, shifting from idle, will gear up to guard Curry
Clippers point guard Chris Paul tries to cut off a drive by Warriors point guard Stephen Curry during Game 1 of their playoff series. (Michael Nelson / EPA)

Chris Paul stood before the assembled media Wednesday in his Clippers practice gear, a black brace loosely hanging from his lower right leg.

After answering several questions about his right hamstring injury and how the Clippers were ready to play the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 of the playoffs Thursday in Oakland, Paul eased his way to a training table and sat.

Paul didn't practice for the second straight day. In fact, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said that "there will be zero contact" for Paul.

So Paul never got to use the brace that he wore during Game 2 to help protect his hamstring and presumably will also wear in Game 3.


The best-of-seven first-round series is tied at 1-1.

"I'll be ready," Paul said. "I'm good. As long as I'm out on the court, I'm OK."

He was injured in the second quarter of Game 1, when he chased down Warriors guard Stephen Curry from behind and knocked the ball out of bounds.

Paul immediately grabbed his right hamstring, but he continued to play.

However, during the Clippers' 40-point victory over the Warriors in Game 2 on Monday night, Rivers said, the coach thought Paul had "tight legs" because of the hamstring.

"You could see the movement wasn't there as much," Rivers said. "The way we won, I think over anything, the most important part of that was that Chris got to sit down and I thought that was important."

Paul played 27 minutes in Game 2 and sat out the fourth quarter.

As the series shifts to Oakland for the next two games, Paul will continue to have the tall task of defending Curry.

So far Paul has done a very good job, holding Curry to 19 points per game in the first two games on 45.5% shooting, 23.1% on three-pointers (three for 13).

It took a 20-point third quarter by Curry in Game 2 to bring his average up against Paul's harassing defense.

Although Curry's scoring burst came in a quarter in which the Clippers led by as many as 33 points, Paul knows he has his hands full with the Warriors' All-Star point guard.

"I didn't really shut him down. You saw that third quarter when he got loose," Paul said. "You've just got to try to stay on his body as much as possible. He's a great scorer, a great shooter. You've just got to try to limit his touches and try to make it as tough as possible."

It's been an injury-riddled season for Paul. In the regular season, he missed 18 games because of a separated right shoulder.

And in the last two years he had to play through injuries in the postseason.

In 2012 he suffered a strained right hip flexor and jammed right middle thumb in the Clippers' first-round playoff series against Memphis. And he also played with a bruised left thumb in Game 5 of the 2013 playoffs against Memphis.

But Paul hates taking about his injuries.

"I love that approach," Rivers said. "So I just think right now with him you have to monitor it. I just have to watch his movement during the game. And if he's fine, he's fine. The only way you find out honestly with injuries, you've got to go out and play and then you'll see."

There also remains the challenge of winning in Oakland.

The Clippers have lost their last five regular-season games against the Warriors at Oracle Arena, and 15 of their last 17. The Clippers' last win in Oakland was on Dec. 25, 2011.

Although the Warriors' last NBA championship was in 1975, they have some of the loudest and most devoted fans in the league. Their arena is often called "The Roaracle" because of their raucous faithful.

"If you approach a game like Game 3 knowing the series is tied, it's a pivotal game and it's going to be an incredible environment, if you approach it like 'I'm going to try to block it out,' I don't think that's necessarily the right approach," Clippers guard J.J. Redick said. "I say embrace it. That environment, if you approach it the right way, can bring out the best in you."