The Phoenix Suns will exit the All-Star break with a big lead atop the Western Conference but also without point guard Chris Paul, who is expected to miss up to two months with a thumb injury.
The Suns are 48-10 and hold a 6 1/2-game lead over the Golden State Warriors (42-17) and an eight-game cushion over the Memphis Grizzlies (41-19) in the West.
However, news of Paul missing up to two months with an avulsion fracture in his right thumb caused DraftKings to lengthen Phoenix’s NBA title odds from +400 to +425. The Suns’ Western Conference odds also lengthened slightly from +170 to +180.
That said, Phoenix will still enter Thursday’s game at the Oklahoma City Thunder with the best record in the NBA, and an eight-week timetable would have Paul returning in time for the playoffs. The Suns remain the title favorite at DraftKings ahead of the Warriors (+425), with the Brooklyn Nets being offered at +450 despite sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia and Milwaukee, who sit third and fifth in the East, are both being offered at +700.
The Suns lead at DraftKings with 21% of the total money bet on the 2022 NBA champion while the Warriors have been backed by the most total bets at 16 percent.
Paul, 36, made a brief appearance in Sunday’s All-Star Game. He entered for Team LeBron late in the first quarter and played two minutes. Paul missed a left-handed layup and committed a foul with 1:30 left, subbed out and did not re-enter.
“We’re 48-10 and if we do miss some time I know the guys are going to hold it down,” Paul said, per ESPN, before the extent of his injury was revealed. “There’s always going to be a frustration with injury. My hand surgeon is part of my family now.”
Paul has a history of hand and wrist injuries.
“I always want to play,” Paul said. “When I felt that in my hand, I was mad for all types of reasons. Obviously, we’re not going to (rush it). I’m going to try to heal as fast as physically possible. The second I’m able to play, I guarantee you I will be playing.”
Paul has appeared in all 58 games this season for the Suns. He has averaged 14.9 points and 4.5 rebounds while his 10.7 assists per game lead the league. – Rappler.com