Rockets guard Chris Paul suffered a hamstring injury in Thursday's loss to the Heat, casting doubt upon his availability for the matchup with the Warriors at Oracle Arena in less than two weeks.
As it turns out, the future Hall of Famer indeed will miss that Western Conference finals rematch Jan. 3.
Following an MRI, Paul was diagnosed with a grade 2 strain of his left hamstring, the Rockets announced Friday. According to the press release, he'll be re-evauluated in approximately two weeks, but he isn't expected to return in time to face the Warriors.
There's optimism that Chris Paul's left hamstring injury will cost him only two-to-three weeks out of the Rockets lineup, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 21, 2018
Paul's injury comes just as the Rockets were finding their groove. After an extremely slow start to the season, Houston had won five in a row prior to Thursday's defeat, a surge that put them back in playoff position. The Rockets have lost all five games Paul has missed this season, and have dropped nine Paul-less games in a row dating to last season.
Paul's hamstring woes are nothing new to the Warriors-Rockets recent rivalry. It was an injury to Paul's right hamstring late in Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference finals that forced him to miss games 6 and 7. Of course, Golden State won both of those contests to advance to the NBA Finals, where they achieved their second consecutive league championship.
The Rockets beat the Warriors 107-86 in Houston in their only prior meeting this season back on Nov. 15, a game in which Paul was a plus-20 in 28 minutes of action.
Unfortunately for Houston -- and equally fortunate for Golden State -- he won't take the court the next time the teams face each other.