Chris Paul fractured his right hand a day after Stephen Curry sprained his right knee — and suddenly the balance of power in the NBA’s Western Conference is altered. It goes without saying that the Golden State Warriors will be a much different team without league MVP Curry, who gave the 73-win Warriors 30 points per game this season. Yet Golden State cruised past Houston in the second half of Game 4 without Curry, looking as seamless as ever on offense as they turned a halftime tie into a rout. The Warriors lead the series three games to one.
The Chris Paul injury is likely more devastating to his team’s prospects in the short term. Locked in a 2-2 series with the largely underestimated Portland Trail Blazers, Paul’s leadership will be hard to replace. TNT announcers came up blank trying to figure out who will guard the Blazers’ extraordinary Damian Lillard now. Blake Griffin also left Game 4, a 98-84 Blazers win, in the 4th quarter with an injury to his quad. But it’s the loss of Paul that will haunt most. “There’s nobody, probably, in the league that can replace Chris Paul,” coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “There’s clearly no one on our team who can.”