The extent to which Chris Paul can contribute tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers remains a mystery because recovery from the injury he suffered varies based on severity, a Valley doctor said.
The Phoenix Suns guard suffered a right shoulder injury – commonly known as a stinger – during the second quarter of Game One in the Western Conference playoffs after teammate Cameron Johnson unintentionally made contact with his neck. Paul was able to finish the game but some of his passes were weak and he struggled to keep control of the ball while dribbling.
“Days to weeks,” Dr. Brad Sorosky of Desert Spine and Sports Physicians said about the length of time recovery takes. “They have a grading system and at this stage it is impossible to really predict. You do a nerve test called an EMG nerve detection test but you want to wait at least three weeks before you (do) that test.”
Game Two was no different and Paul looked even more uncomfortable on the floor. He was limited to 23 minutes while scoring six points on 2-of-5 shooting, forcing coach Monty Williams to sit him for the majority of the game.
“It’s pretty obvious that he was not able to make the passes that he wants that’s one, and he was laboring tonight,” said coach Monty Williams.
A stinger often results when a stretching of nerves located near the base of the neck and top of the shoulder occurs.
When healthy, Paul is an MVP candidate who frequently makes the teams he is on legitimate contenders. The Suns won 17 more games this season compared to a year ago. They went from a potential playoff team to the number two seed in the Western Conference and much of it has to do with Paul’s leadership and understanding of a winning culture that he brought to the desert.
His teammates can tell he is pushing his body to the limits.
“He is going to fight,” guard Devin Booker said. “He is a warrior out there and I know that he doesn’t want anything more than to win these games, so I know he’s going to do everything in his power to be out there.”
The injury seems to bother Paul while he is shooting and passing the basketball, even hampering him while running.
“You feel pain in the shoulder and arm which we refer to as a neuropathic pain, which is nerve pain and you may feel burning, numbness, tingling and paresthesia,” Sorosky said.
The question remains: How long will it take Paul to get his health back to 100 percent and have an impact on the remainder of the series? Tonight’s game should provide some clues.