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Suns guard Chris Paul expected to play in Game 3 vs. Clippers

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (R), shown April 8, 2021, has been in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols since last week after testing positive for the coronavirus. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (R), shown April 8, 2021, has been in the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols since last week after testing positive for the coronavirus. File Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE

June 23 (UPI) -- Barring a setback, Phoenix Suns star point guard Chris Paul is expected to play in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday at Staples Center.

League sources told ESPN on Tuesday night there was optimism within the Suns organization that Paul, who missed the first two games of the series due to the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, could return for Game 3 in Los Angeles, but he had yet to be cleared.

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Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday that Paul underwent a cardio exam earlier in the morning and passed the test, which was the final step to clear the league's protocols. He has been in the protocols since June 16.

Later Wednesday, the Suns listed Paul as probable for Thursday's matchup, a clear signal that the 11-time All-Star selection is nearing a return to the court.

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The 36-year-old Paul reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 last week despite being vaccinated, leading to his placement in the league's coronavirus protocols. According to ESPN, he was asymptomatic and spent time away from the team in the L.A. area while in quarantine.

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Before being sidelined, Paul dominated in the Suns' four-game sweep of the Denver Nuggets, averaging 25.5 points on 62.7% shooting while notching 41 assists to just five turnovers in the second-round series.

The Suns beat the Clippers 104-103 in Tuesday night's Game 2 to grab a 2-0 lead in the series.

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The best-of-seven series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is set for Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT at Staples Center.

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