There are a lot of reasons the San Antonio Spurs have cruised to the NBA's best record this season at 49-10. Their Big Three is still going strong, they've seen big improvements from their young group of role players, and Gregg Popovich has his players young and old working together with cohesion and confidence.
They've also had quite a bit of luck.
The Spurs managed to survive the first 59 games of the regular season with virtually no significant injuries. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan have played all 59. Even their bench has remained nearly unscathed. When you have all your guys healthy at all times, wins tend to come pretty easy.
The Lakers have been without Andrew Bynum, the Mavericks have missed Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler, the Bulls have lacked Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, the Heat have had all of their superstar trio nicked up, and the Celtics have survived without Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo (among many, many others). Then you have the Spurs, who have faced pretty much no adversity.
Now that's about to change.
With the news that Parker will miss a big chunk of March with a sore calf muscle, the Spurs will now enter their toughest stretch of the season. They're taking on the Heat, the Lakers, the Mavericks and the Heat again over the next three weeks, and they won't have their floor leader.
The Spurs will survive. They'll probably start George Hill in Parker's place, and Hill's talented but untested at a raw 24 years of age. He'll be serviceable in the heightened role. But he won't be Parker, and the Spurs won't be the Spurs.
Forget about playing .831 basketball. The Spurs will just look to survive with the No. 1 overall playoff seed (they're currently 5 1/2 games up on Boston) and get healthy for the playoffs.
Parker is what makes the Spurs go. He brings scoring ability, playmaking and game-changing speed to that starting five. They're a different team without him.
That team will tread water in March, but it won't be the NBA's best. The Spurs will have to learn to fight through adversity now — just like everyone else.
What do you think of the Spurs without Tony Parker? Share your thoughts below.
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