Predicting the NBA awards during the offseason is always tough to get right, but everyone loves whacking together a few bold predictions to see how wrong they are this time next year.
San Antonio’s blow out victory in game 2 on Wednesday night came at a huge cost: Tony Parker will miss the rest of the playoffs with a ruptured quadriceps tendon.
Parker was carried off the floor during the fourth quarter and it emerged last night that he would not return in the post-season, no matter how far the Spurs can go.
Parker had been the Spurs’ second leading scorer in the postseason, averaging 15.9 points per game, providing excellent support for Kawhi Leonard. At times this postseason, Parker has looked back in the kind of form that helped the Spurs win four titles.
Now San Antonio will have find a way to win without their French general, who has 221 playoff games of experience – fifth on the all-time list and the most amongst active players.
To put that in perspective Tony Parker has played more playoff games (since 2002) than the Kings, Pelicans, Bucks, Timberwolves, Knicks & Hornets have combined!
Whilst there is no doubt that this loss is a huge blow for the Spurs the injury does provide an opportunity for Australian guard Patty Mills.
Mills has been doing an outstanding job of leading San Antonio’s second unit this season – averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 assists per game – and providing a three-point threat off the bench. Parker’s injury will probably see Mills promoted by coach Greg Popovich to the starting line up and see his minutes increase significantly.
Mills and rookie Dejounte Murray will have to take on the burden of filling the void left by Parker’s absence. Expect to see Kawhi Leonard take on more of a point forward role whilst Mills acts as a floor spacer. This could actually benefit the Spurs as Mills is a much better three-point shooter than Parker and will prevent defences collapsing in on Leonard.
It is a long and tired cliche in sports that an injury to one player can provide an opportunity to an another. Let’s hope that Patty Mills can seize his chance and keep the San Antonio Spurs in contention for yet another NBA title.