Parker’s injury could derail Spurs
In a game the San Antonio Spurs had to win, veteran point guard Tony Parker put forth arguably his best effort of the season. He navigated through traffic, knocked down three-pointers, delivered crisp passes, and helped the Spurs surge to a massive lead over the Houston Rockets, who took Game 1 in comfortable fashion.
And then Parker landed awkwardly after a shot attempt. He needed to be helped off the floor by teammates, and head coach Gregg Popovich, in describing the apparent knee injury, could only muster, “It’s not good.”
Even though Parker, who turns 35 years old in two weeks, is not as spry as he once was, he’s still a vital part of the Spurs’ system. Before exiting Game 2 with injury, he had tallied 18 points and four assists in just 26 minutes. He also did not commit a turnover.
While backup guard Patty Mills might be a better option in spurts, he’s not capable of running the show by his lonesome. Parker’s injury could lead to extended minutes for the aged Manu Ginobili. It could also require some experimentation with youngster Dejounte Murray.
Parker’s injury overshadowed what was a dominant and revitalizing Game 2 win for the Spurs, who had trailed by as many as 39 points in a blowout loss in Game 1. For a night, age, speed, and shooting prowess were not concerns for San Antonio. Now health is the concern.
The Spurs have yet to offer a concrete diagnosis, but no one around the team provided a positive prognosis. “It’s hard to see him limping and hurting now," Ginobili said. "You kind of know that we’re not going to see him anytime soon. So, that’s a tough blow. We’ll see, we don’t know."
Parker’s injury will place even more pressure on Kawhi Leonard as a ball-handler. The MVP candidate delivered another marquee performance in the win, missing just three shots en route to 34 points. The Spurs rely on Leonard in much the same way the Cleveland Cavaliers lean on LeBron James. James, however, has more help with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
The Spurs lack the kind of complementary players who can get their own shots, meaning a lengthy injury to Parker will force Leonard to become scorer and distributor–along with top defender. As it stands now, the Spurs will go as far as Leonard can carry them.