The San Antonio Spurs are still currently the best in the West.
More importantly, and impressively, they have the best record in the entire league (49-11). With 22 remaining games in the regular season, though, there is still time to lose it all, especially since the Dallas Mavericks, which are second in the Southwest, are not too far behind (44-16).
The Spurs have 10 potential trap games remaining on the schedule, which could possibly set them back and keep them out of that No. 1 spot.
After Last night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, it’s clear that the next three weeks or so without Tony Parker are going to be more of a struggle than expected.
No, they shouldn’t find it difficult to get a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight. If so, then the struggle is even worse than imaginable. But their game on Friday against the Miami Heat (43-17) won’t be as easy.
Actually, it’s safe to say that even if Parker was on the court, the Spurs would still find it hard to beat the Heat.
Yes, the Spurs are playing the Heat in San Antonio and they have shown to be beyond destructive at home with a record of 28-2. But without one of their big stars, it’s not going to be an easy task to pass the second-best team in the East.
It also doesn’t help that the Spurs will have to face the Heat twice without Parker.
On Sunday, March 6, the Los Angeles Lakers (43-19, third in West) might finally get a win over one of the top-two teams in the West.
They will probably claim they had it in them all this time and they are finally coming together as a team.
Without Tony Parker, this win is going to be harder to come by for the Spurs.
However, they will get a chance to replay them in April. Regardless of anyone’s health, it’s never easy going up against a team that has threatened to come alive when the time is right or that has won the last two championships.
After several games without Parker, come mid-March the Spurs might be well beyond their tipping point.
On March 18, they will face off with the Dallas Mavericks, a team they have always struggled with and one that is good at keeping up with the competition.
Lest we forget, the Mavs are second in the West and half of their losses came when their own star, Dirk Nowitzski, was out due to an injury.
With everyone of their guys on-board and with Parker out of it for the Spurs, the Spurs might be reliving the Mavs mid-season nightmare.
Denver without Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups might be of less of a threat, but, regardless, they are fifth in the West (35-26) and the Nuggets will not go down without a fight.
They will be playing in Denver and the Spurs have been a lot less consistent on the road than at home (21-9). And according to the calendar, they still might be without a Parker for at least a full game appearance.
Another team they will have to play twice between now and the end of the regular season.
Coincidentally, it is also another team they have played twice before—with one win and one loss against Portland.
This team knows the Spurs players inside and out and the Blazers are going to prove to be a challenge with these two games against them.
Granted, the Spurs have played this team three times and have won two of those times.
They still lost one game to the Grizzlies, which ultimately messes with their confidence against the team.
They should have a weak-yet-recovered Parker back by this time, but regardless, the Grizzlies have played them often enough to know the Spurs weaknesses and strengths.
The Boston Celtics are the best team in the East (43-15).
The Spurs have played them once in Boston and lost.
Granted, they are playing them in San Antonio this second time around, giving them the upper-hand.
And granted, Tony Parker should be back and ready to play by that time, fingers-crossed. The Boston Celtics will never be a team that will provide that extra win on your schedule.
They are No. 1 in the East for a reason. It should be a good game but not an easy one for the Spurs.
Let's face it, they have to deal with each other every game, so theoretically, their biggest game is against themselves.
With the loss of Tony Parker, it’s obvious they are just as vulnerable as any other team. They need each-and-every one of their starters, just like the Mavs needed Nowitzski.
If they can get Parker back as fast as possible and stay healthy between then and the Finals, then they should be fine and prove threatening.
They have to stay focused on the Finals as well. For being known as one of the oldest teams in the NBA (which isn’t true), people are expecting them to fall, and they can’t let any negative talk from NBA fans or Lakers fans intimidate them.
At this point, it's up to them to keep what they had going...going.