Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
The Spurs have thrived offensively when the Heat have had to scramble after the ball as it whips around the perimeter. But the chain reaction that has led to open shots and available cutting avenues doesn't get started unless Parker, the agent of chaos, forces the Heat out of position by penetrating.
Whether he gets a high screen or simply beats his defender off the dribble, Parker's ability to get into the lane and draw help is invariably the first step in San Antonio's offensive success in the half court.
When he attacks the teeth of Miami's defense, help defenders have no choice but to sag toward him. If they don't, Parker's trademark floater is a sure bet from anywhere inside 10 feet. But when he draws that help, he starts a chain of events that almost always leads to a terrific shot for his team.
Sometimes, the results are direct, as Parker so often finds open shooters in the corners after defenders have dug down to cut off his drives. In other instances, he kicks the ball out to a teammate, who swiftly moves the rock along to the next open man as the Heat try frantically to recover in time.
Three or four passes later, the Spurs are usually getting an open, high-percentage shot.
Just look at the way the Spurs' performance dipped in the second half of Game 4 when the point guard's bothersome hamstring prevented him from making his typical forays into the lane. Parker didn't score, and the Spurs offense looked pedestrian. Miami ran away with the game.
For San Antonio to function at a high offensive level, Parker has to be healthy and aggressive. If he can't be both of those things, the Spurs are in serious trouble.