Paul suffered a right hamstring strain at the end of Houston’s Game 5 victory on Thursday, which put a damper on their win to take a 3-2 series lead.
On Friday, the team announced Paul will be out for Game 6 at Oracle Arena and re-evaluated after the Rockets return to Houston.
“It’s obviously not something we wanted,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I hate it for him above all. He’s practically won us the past two games. But it’s a great opportunity for other guys, and we have plenty to choose from. We’ll be ready.”
D’Antoni didn’t provide much optimism for Paul returning for a potential Game 7 either, saying “I don’t know.”
The Rockets now have no choice but to face the fact they’ll be without one of their stars as they head into a hostile environment in the Bay, where the Warriors had, up until Game 4, won an NBA-record 16 straight in the playoffs.
Houston’s record with Paul this season is 61-12, while they’re just 15-9 without him in the lineup.
Eric Gordon, who likely will start for the Rockets with Paul out, averaged 21.5 points, 3.4 assists in 30 games as a starter while filling in for Paul and Harden this season.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) May 25, 2018
The point guard has been critical in the Rockets’ past two wins, providing timely shot-making while James Harden has been off the mark.
The stats actually suggest Houston have been better in this series without Paul, with the team fielding a net rating of plus-1.5 points in his 56 minutes on the bench, compared to a net rating of minus-8.4 in his 184 minutes on the floor.
Diving deeper, when both Harden and Paul have been on the court – 136 minutes – the Rockets have a point differential of minus-12. With just Paul on the court, it’s minus-eight in 47 minutes. And with only Harden, it’s plus-11 in 47 minutes.
While those stats feel somewhat hollow considering Paul’s heroics the past two games, they do suggest Houston can survive in his absence, but likely only if Harden breaks out of his slump.
The struggling Luc Mbah a Moute is also expected to be reinserted into the rotation.
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