Tony Parker is headed for an MRI, but don't fret, Spurs fans—it's not as bad as it sounds.
Typically, when an athlete is scheduled for an MRI, the best-case scenario is that a few weeks of rest is all that will be needed to heal an ailing ligament and not surgery, which requires a lengthy recovery process.
In this case, Parker's need for the MRI, on his left calf, is simply precautionary.
The Associated Press, via the USA Today, reports that the dynamic point guard doesn't envision missing any game time, and that:
...the MRI is "just to make sure" he's improving on schedule from the injury, which limited his effectiveness in the final two games of the Spurs' second-round series against the Golden State Warriors.
On the court, Parker is showing no signs of anything limiting his performances. In a Game 2 overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference final, Parker went for 15 points and a playoff career-high 18 assists while playing 42 minutes.
Obviously, it was an excellent performance, but it was not without its flaws. Parker was just 6-of-20 from the floor. It's impossible to say if this was the result of his calf, or simply an off night. In Game 1, he was 9-of-14 on field goal attempts, to tie his best shooting percentage of this playoff run.
In other words, Parker is showing no ill effects from his injury.
However, Parker is 31, and calf issues, like hamstrings and quads, can be re-aggravated in a split second. The more Parker plays on his calf before it is fully healed, the more likely he is to suffer a setback.
Parker makes a good point while talking about his injury in the Associated Press piece as he notes his calf is feeling better and that it is the "perfect time" for this series to not resume until Saturday.
Game 4 of the series is scheduled for Monday, and if the Spurs win the next two, it will be onto the NBA Finals for Parker and his teammates.
That is exactly what the aging Spurs need to do. This is a team that needs all the rest it can get. Now, with Parker still in the process of nursing a sore calf, that is more vital than ever.
Game 4 of the East will not be played until Tuesday. So, no matter what happens in the East, if the Spurs sweep then they will have an extra day rest. This will be at a premium for the Spurs. Not just so they will have fresher legs as a team, but so Parker can avoid extra miles on his sore calf.
A sweep would give Parker more time to let his calf fully heal, and attack the finals with reckless abandon. And the Spurs are going to need Parker to be at his best if they want to win the championship.
Both the Pacers and the Heat can pressure the ball and force offenses into sloppy possessions. With the Spurs' excellent ball movement, they are well suited to handle that kind of defense. However, that fluid offense all begins with the penetration and distribution skills of Parker.
Parker is always essential to the Spurs attack, and that will amplified in the finals. Now, the Spurs must do everything they can to make sure he is healthy, and that starts by sweeping the series they currently lead 2-0.
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