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Why Chris Paul's Injury Leaves Pacific Division Wide Open

Yahoo Contributor Network
Why Chris Paul's Injury Leaves Pacific Division Wide Open
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Chris Paul.

COMMENTARY | With Chris Paul sidelined for 3-5 weeks with an injured shoulder, the Golden State Warriors have a "golden" opportunity to break through in the Pacific Division.

Widely considered the best point guard in the NBA, Paul is averaging 19.6 points, 11.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game and is the heart and leader of the Los Angeles Clippers. During Paul's absence, the Clippers will have to rely on capable guard Darren Collison along with big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The team as a whole still has firepower, but the loss of Paul is a considerable dent.

The Pacific Division has been surprisingly competitive, even with the slumping pick-up squad put out by the Los Angeles Lakers in fourth place. The Phoenix Suns look strong to start the season, with "slash brothers" Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe manning the backcourt for third place. And the Warriors, who've scraped by the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks during their 9-game win streak, are tied with the Clippers.

In the 3-5 week span, the Clip Show will have to take its talents on the road for a string of eight away games in 14 days, including matches against the Pacers, Raptors, Bulls, Pistons and Warriors. Playing on the road in the NBA is a losing battle, where even the best teams can falter.

Meanwhile, the Warriors will continue to thrive off the league-best win streak. Winning is contagious and the Warriors look like one of the strongest teams in the league when everything is working. Momentum is another powerful tool, one that Golden State has a handful of while its winning. And while nobody on the Warriors would say they're happy about another player's injury, everyone on that sideline is fully aware of the loss of Paul and what it could mean.

There's plenty of regular season left to play, nearly 50 games worth of action, but every game could mean the difference between a division title and a bottom-3 seed.

Golden State is primed to take advantage of this situation while it is playing high-quality basketball, and when Paul returns, there's a good chance he'll be looking up at the Warriors in the standings.

Brett Appley is the former sports editor for "The Orion," the Chico State student-run newspaper and WestCoastBeat. He is from the Bay Area and is an avid follower of local teams. He has been published on sites such as sfgate.com and latimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrettAppley.

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