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Suns’ Chris Paul reportedly intends to return for Game 3 vs. Clippers

2021 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets

DENVER, CO - JUNE 13: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns looks on after the game 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 Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

What we know is Chris Paul must have two negative coronavirus tests 24 hours apart and pass a cardiac stress test to return to the court — the Suns have optimistic that would happen before Game 3 on Thursday night, as reported by Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Now comes word Chris Paul has passed all the tests intends to play in Game 3. That report comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and TNT.

Paul underwent a cardio exam Wednesday morning and passed, which is the final step to clearing the league’s health and safety protocols, sources said. Paul has been in the protocols since June 16.

Multiple reports say CP3 had been vaccinated, which allows for a speedier return under the NBA’s protocols. He also was reportedly asymptomatic (which is the most important news for him beyond thinking about a return).

Even without Paul the Suns have gone up 2-0 on the Clippers thanks to a 40-point triple-double in the first game from Devin Booker, then a gritty team effort topped off by a Deandre Ayton dunk in Game 2. Paul has FaceTimed with his teammates after both wins.

The Clippers have come back from 0-2 deficits in the first two rounds of the playoffs, against the Mavericks and Jazz, but this time is different. For one thing, the Suns have more system versatility than the teams the Clippers faced earlier (meaning Phoenix can adjust more). This also is a younger and more athletic Suns team.

But the biggest difference is Chris Paul — it looks like the Suns get their best player back on Thursday night. It’s difficult to see the Clippers coming back from that.