Thursday, November 13, 2008

FoxSports: NBA's Most Dominant Force? Injuries

Our next turn takes us to San Antonio, where losing two of the league's best players happens.

The proud Spurs began this season without marvelous Argentine two-guard Manu Ginobili, whose ankle buckled during an Olympic skirmish with Team USA. San Antonio promptly lost four of its first five games, and the only triumph required a 55-point, double-overtime effort against from point guard Tony Parker against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Parker encountered a high ankle sprain of his very own in the next game.

So the Spurs, who were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday and are registered at 2-5, will rely on Tim Duncan and spot-up shooters to keep their chins above Western water.

Unfortunately, the defense that has helped define San Antonio has been as untidy as Coach Gregg Popovich's beard. Through seven games, the Spurs were 22nd in field-goal percentage defense. And now that Parker and Ginobili are temporary goners (Parker for maybe 2-3 more weeks and Manu until mid-December), the Spurs have nobody with the off-the-dribble shake to break down defenses and find those stand-still jump shooters.

Expect more touches than ever for Duncan, whose ability to inspire double-team tactics should lead to more pristine looks for welcome newcomer Mason (14 points per game).

With 75 more games to play, it seems silly to dismiss the Spurs. But with the stunt doubles at Duncan's side, staying alive in the West may depend on the training room and the ARP machine.

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