Can San Antonio Spurs Keep Rolling with Hobbled Tony Parker?

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Can San Antonio Spurs Keep Rolling with Hobbled Tony Parker?

The San Antonio Spurs are bigger than Tony Parker.

Remember that. If the Spurs are forced to play Game 4 and beyond against the Miami Heat without Parker, remember they're not a pushover.

According to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears, an MRI revealed Parker strained his hamstring in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

"Hopefully, I will be good [Thursday]," Parker told Spears of the injury.

And hopefully he will be. Yet if he's not, the Spurs won't be incapable. They can still win; they can still beat the Heat without him.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It was Parker who put up MVP-caliber numbers during the regular season. It was Parker who promised Tim Duncan the Spurs would get back to the finals. And it was Parker who delivered on his pledge.

But he didn't do it alone.

One player hasn't carried San Antonio to where it is now. The Spurs are not who they are because they rely upon the efforts of one to sustain the majority.

Parker isn't the sole reason the Spurs are playing for their fourth title of the Big Three era. Duncan hasn't led San Antonio to four titles since 1999 on his own. Gregg Popovich hasn't been found bellowing obscenities in one player's direction. 

They're a team, these Spurs. One that's bigger than Parker, bigger than Duncan, bigger than even the Big Three. They wouldn't be perennial title contenders if they weren't.

In Game 3, Parker scored six points and dished out eight assists. All six of those points and seven of those eight assists came in the first half, a stellar contribution even by Parker's standards. Still, the Spurs went into the locker room up by only six, leaving no room for error.

Taking Parker out of the game was the last thing the Spurs would've wanted to do, but they had no choice. Coach Pop took him out in the third, reinserted him later, only to take him out again early in the fourth quarter.

Risking further injury definitely factored into the decision to play Parker a smidgen over eight minutes in that second half. Mostly though, the Spurs didn't need him. 

Despite their "best" player being held scoreless and notching only one assist in eight-plus minutes of burn, the Spurs went on to outscore Miami 63-33 in the latter two periods. They went on to win, taking a series lead and putting themselves in a position that has historically yielded a championship 92.3 percent of the time.

What's more is the Spurs didn't win Game 3 with Duncan or Ginobili picking up a majority of the offensive slack. Duncan went 5-of-11 from the floor for 12 points, and Ginobili went 3-of-7 for six. Yet they still won.

Behind a 27-point outburst from Danny Green and a 24-point explosion from Gary Neal, the Spurs throttled the Heat. For most of the second half, it wasn't even close. That's how deep the Spurs are; that's what they do.

Duncan took care of business on the glass with 14 rebounds (seven offensive), Ginobili made plays for his teammates (six assists) and Kawhi Leonard pitched in a double-double of his own. Then there were Green and Neal, leading the charge on the scoreboard.

Extract Parker from the lineup or restrict his abilities in any way and the Spurs are not better off. The Ewing Theory isn't going to apply in San Antonio, but Parker's health won't cripple the team either. These Spurs aren't built like that.

Each member of the team has his own role. Coupled with a selfless, never-say-die attitude, the Spurs are two victories away from another title.

We can't say Green will never miss again—though having hit 12 of his last 14 deep balls suggests he might only miss a few. Neal can't be counted on for 20-plus points every night. Leonard won't hold LeBron James to just 15 all the time.

Because the Spurs aren't perfect, and they don't need to be.

How many more games will the Spurs win if Tony Parker isn't at full strength?

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Parker, Duncan and Ginobili combined for 27 points in Game 2 and the Spurs got hammered by 19. They accounted for just 25 points in Game 3 and the Spurs won by 36.

Performances of both kind are going to happen. Reserves aren't always going to be able to carry the Spurs to victory when Parker and the Big Three can't get it going, a la Game 2. Yet they're also more than equipped to make up for a lack of production from Parker and anyone else on any given night like they did in Game 3.

That the Spurs are capable of the latter is far more important than anything else. With Parker, without Parker, they can do this.

They can still win.

 

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