The second round series between the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets is drawing a great deal of deserved attention. On one side, Denver is the No. 1 seed and led by two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic. On the other, Phoenix isn’t necessarily a typical No. 4 seed after a mid-season blockbuster to acquire Kevin Durant, and the Suns entered the playoffs as the betting favorite to win the Western Conference. However, the Suns do have concerns when it comes to depth and, on Monday, Phoenix’s depth was pushed to the brink by an injury to Chris Paul.
Paul was forced off the floor and almost immediately into the locker room during the third quarter after he attempted to box out Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and seemingly tweaked his groin.
chris paul grabbing at his groin after this play here pic.twitter.com/pgytRjqaES
— Cage (@ridiculouscage) May 2, 2023
After several minutes of uncertainty, the Suns announced that Paul would not return to Game 2 as a result of left groin tightness, which is a considerable concern given his history of soft tissue injuries.
INJURY UPDATE: Chris Paul (left groin tightness) will not return.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 2, 2023
Paul scored only eight points in 25 minutes of action, but he continues to provide value as a pick-and-roll operator and generated six assists before exiting the game. The Suns initially turned to Cameron Payne for more minutes in Paul’s absence but quickly pivoted away from Payne in favor of more size and shooting after Payne struggled.
Even with Durant and Devin Booker operating as the team’s primary initiators, Phoenix can ill afford to be without Paul on a team that is heavily built toward its top four players. As a result, the Suns will be holding their breath as updates emerge.