Chris Paul Remains in COVID-19 Protocols Ahead of Clippers vs. Suns Game 1

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 19, 2021

DENVER, CO - JUNE 13: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns shoots a free throw against the Denver Nuggets during Round 2, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 13, 2021 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

Veteran point guard Chris Paul remains in the NBA's COVID-19 protocols ahead of Sunday's Western Conference Finals Game 1 matchup between his Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers, per Marc Stein of the New York Times and Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Paul entered the protocols Wednesday, and Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported at the time that his status for the Western Conference Finals was "up in the air."

Paul, 36, has been immense for the Suns this season. He finished fifth in MVP voting after averaging 16.4 points, 8.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game and shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from three.

The Suns went from a 34-39 record last season without Paul to 51-21, ending a 10-year playoff drought.

Though he suffered a right shoulder injury in the team's first-round dismissal of the Los Angeles Lakers, he dismantled the Denver Nuggets in a four-game sweep, averaging 25.5 points, 10.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game and shooting 62.7 percent from the field and 75.0 percent from three.

An epic performance, to be sure. 

His absence would be a major one for the Suns, though the Clippers may be heading into the series short-handed as well, with Kawhi Leonard missing the final two games of the Western Conference semifinals with a sprained right knee. His status for Game 1 is unclear.

As for Paul, head coach Monty Williams said the Suns will be ready whether he's cleared to play or not.

"My faith isn't going to waver now because we've had a few obstacles," he told reporters Wednesday. "We've had obstacles all season long and gotten through a lot of stuff. You look forward to these challenges, you embrace them, and you move forward."