San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker is a lock future Hall of Famer and one of the best foreign-born players in NBA history. Alas, his 2017 postseason is now over and so might his career be. Can the Spurs beat the Rockets without him?
You know that old cliché where a victory can be costly? That was indeed the case for the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs against the No. 3 Houston Rockets in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Wednesday. The Spurs won 121-96 to even the series at 1-1. Kawhi Leonard was magnificent both offensively and defensively.
However, Spurs starting point guard Tony Parker, a first-ballot future Hall of Famer, had to be carried off the court at AT&T Center with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter when he suffered a left leg injury. Parker had 18 points, four assists and three rebounds, while shooting 8-for-13 from the field, when he tried a runner in the lane that missed and landed awkwardly. He wasn’t touched on the play. Earlier in the game, he had joined LeBron James as the league's only players to have scored 4,000 points and dished 1,000 assists in their postseason careers.
It was evident right away that the injury was serious, and it was: the Spurs announced Thursday Parker suffered a ruptured left quadriceps tendon that ends his 2017 postseason and puts the rest of his career in jeopardy considering Parker will be 35 in less than two weeks and had his worst statistical season since his 2001-02 rookie year. Parker was better this postseason, averaging 15.9 points and 3.1 assists.
So what does this mean for the present? San Antonio is a 4.5-point NBA betting underdog for Friday’s Game 3 in Houston and the Spurs are -105 series underdogs on BetOnline’s NBA odds. Aussie Patty Mills surely will move into the starting lineup. He averaged 9.5 points per game and 3.5 assists during the regular season and contributed had seven points Wednesday. Manu Ginobili will serve as the primary backup point guard, but Ginobili is miles past his prime and will be 40 later this summer. Ginobili is averaging just 3.5 points in 15.4 minutes in these playoffs. The injury also likely means more minutes for guys like rookie Dejounte Murray, Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons.
“Besides the fact that Tony is our point guard, we are going to miss having him around, his experience, his big shots,” Ginobili said. “It is more than just who is going to start. We are going to miss his presence.”
San Antonio was 15-4 in games Parker missed during the regular season and while I believe Mills can capably replace Parker, it’s when Mills is on the bench resting or in potential foul trouble where the Rockets can pounce – just like they did in the first round when Russell Westbrook was resting in games for Oklahoma City. Series advantage now goes to Houston.Bet On NBA Futures At SBR's Top Sportsbooks