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How Worried Should San Antonio Spurs Be About Their Late-Season Injury Woes?

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How Worried Should San Antonio Spurs Be About Their Late-Season Injury Woes?
USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs 2012-13 season began like any other in recent years, with brilliant execution and a plethora of wins to show for it.

Led by MVP candidate Tony Parker and a reinvigorated Tim Duncan, it seemed as though nothing could hinder the rolling Spurs.

Then injuries occurred—one after another, after another. Aging shooting guard, Manu Ginobili missed extended time, as did Duncan, sophomore Kawhi Leonard and most recently, Parker.

And yet, despite expectation, the team has barely broken character, beating teams like the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder despite the absence of its star.

However, while such wins may not show it, Parker's injury—as well as those to the rest of the roster—have been detrimental to the chemistry of the squad. But while this may hold true, as long as such health issues don't arise in the postseason, the Spurs have little to worry about.

For starters, every injury frees playing time for other players, allowing coach Gregg Popovich to work his magic with role players in order to get them adjusted before they reach the big stage.

The solution to the backup point guard question is unfolding as the season rolls on, which is important considering the playoffs are beginning to peek over the horizon.

However, the reserve guards aren't the only ones in the spotlight in wake of the injury.

Kawhi Leonard has largely felt the effects of Parker's absence, with the defensive specialist suddenly thrust into an integral offensive role—in which he has succeeded.

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Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Leonard exploded for 24 points and 13 rebounds, the latter a career high. Consistency from the rising star will be a major factor once the playoffs come around, and throwing him into a leading role when the stakes are low will help to ensure that he remains confidence once the games are more important.

Like Leonard, starting big man Tiago Splitter has used the increased role to his advantage—becoming an essential member of the post tandem that has grown increasingly important ever since Parker was injured.

After waiting two years for his promised maturity, Splitter is finally showing signs of stardom—and his most recent dominance epitomizes his sheer brilliance this season. Relying on him will be just as important as Leonard, if not more so, so the injury benefits his case in the long run as well.

As a team, learning to play without a key player ensures that they won't fall apart when he isn't on the court in the playoffs.

As for Parker, there is plenty of time for the injury to heal, and as long as he isn't rushed into action, it should have little effect on his play after his return.

In fact, the rest could prove to be beneficial, and while the consequences of increased rest may be minimal, it wouldn't hurt, to say the least.

Overall, no member of the team—excluding the habitually battered Manu Ginobili—has given the Spurs any reason to believe that their injury is anything more than a freak accident, and the recovery process has been anything but difficult to the victims.

For Parker, only time will tell how he bounces back, but the team's unrelenting success will allow for his ankle to heal properly before being thrust back into action.

His absence has allowed for others to gain confidence, something vital to their title chances—so in essence, his time off will prove to be a positive.

As long as the Spurs enter the postseason at full health, they have little to worry about when considering the injuries of the regular season.

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