Has Chris Paul’s Shoulder Injury Made The Lakers Favorites Against the Suns?

Published 05/26/2021, 2:17 PM EDT
May 23, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul reacts after suffering an injury against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half during game one in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


The Phoenix Suns are taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the ongoing 2021 NBA playoffs. Given how differently both the teams approach the game, the match-up is certainly intriguing and promises to be a cracker.

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The series got off to an amazing start as the second seeded Suns won the first game after a dominant 99-90 performance against the champions. Playoff debutants DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker were unstoppable as they combined for 55 points in total and led the Suns to a 1-0 lead.

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Despite all their success in the first game, the Suns were dealt a major blow as veteran guard Chris Paul suffered from a shoulder injury. Has this injury turned the series into Lakers’ favor?

How are the Phoenix Suns performing with an injured Chris Paul?

After a rather all round display against the Lakers in game 1, eyes were all set on the Suns’ performance in game 2. While they did have a decent enough start, it was clear that CP3 was struggling on the court. He might have played 23 minutes, but the veteran point guard was uncharacteristically sloppy with his handles and couldn’t get his shots up.

With Paul struggling, Devin Booker became the primary scorer and also was tasked with creating shots for other players. The lack of playmakers certainly limited Booker who could not dominate on the court.

His stat line of 31 points might seem great, but 17 of these points were from free throws which majorly came in the fourth quarter when the Lakers were in lead. Backup guard Cameron Payne certainly stepped up from the bench hitting some big shots and scoring 19 points, but he couldn’t do the same in crunch time.

Even experienced veterans like Jae Crowder did not step up in Paul’s absence as he only shot 1 three pointer of 6 attempts. The Suns might have had a great game 1, but in game 2, the lack of experience and a closer like Chris Paul. Phoenix ultimately lost the second game 109-102.

In the contrast, the Lakers’ superstars Anthony Davis and LeBron James got it done in the court and ensured that the champions tied the series. With CP3’s return to full fitness unlikely, the Phoenix Suns need their other young stars to come off age and carry their team to an upset over the Lakers.

Why have the Lakers become favorites?

The Lakers had a tough day when they had to guard Chris Paul in game 1. With their defense trying to close in on Paul and Booker, a player like DeAndre Ayton was free in the pick and roll action leading to easy baskets.

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But with an injured Paul, the Lakers know that they have to focus more on Booker and that might be enough to limit the Suns offensive system. As the champions double team D-Book, the 24-year-old star had to give the ball to a player like Cameron Payne. Payne might be a talented hooper, but he is no CP3.

May 25, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates with teammates against the Phoenix Suns during the first half in game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Lack of chance creation is certainly a concern and given the massive size of the Lakers, the Suns need a good mid range shooter to close the game. While Booker is magnificent from the midrange, he already has enough on his plate and might struggle to find shots.

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Given how important CP3 is to the Suns, his injury has certainly swung the series on Lakers’ favour and with home court advantage, the champions are clear favorites in this match-up. Who do you think will prevail in the playoff series, the Lakers or the Suns?

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Aditya Mohapatra

862 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.

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