NBA Finals: Spurs prepared if Tony Parker limited by hamstring

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

The Spurs are prepared if Parker can't play in Game 4.   (USATSI)
The Spurs are prepared if Tony Parker can't play in Game 4. (USATSI)

SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs understand how important MVP candidate Tony Parker is to their success, but remain confident in their ability to adapt should Parker's hamstring injury limit him in Game 4 vs. Miami. Parker sustained a "slight hamstring strain" in Game 3 which held him out for most of the second half of Game 3. Parker made it clear he doesn't feel pressure to play in Game 4 against the Heat and that if it were a regular-season game, he'd probably miss it.

Manu Ginobili did tell reporters Wednesday at practice that there's an obvious adjustment without Parker should the point guard not play:

Well, it's going to be difficult,'' Ginobili said. "If he's limited, it's going to be hard, because we know we need his speed, his judgment, his pick-and-rolls. Because after that, from that we create a lot of offense. And if we don't have him or if we have him limited, it's going to be very, very difficult. But we'll have to figure it out and find other answers."

Those other answers include Gary Neal, who scored 24 points in Game 3 and Cory Joseph who added four assists in San Antonio's blowout victory. Neal however, said that his role likely wouldn't change much, with Ginobili taking over more of a role.

"If Tony wouldn't be able to play," Neal said, "it wouldn't change my role any. Manu might handle the ball more, but my role would still be the same. I would still get the same amount of minutes, have the same role in the offense and go in the game looking to score in open opportunities."

Joseph, 21, said that his entire experience with the Spurs, from his time with the team's D-League affiliate in Austin, Texas, to his in-game experience in the Finals has him ready to go if called upon.

"You've got to be ready whenever you're called upon," Joseph said. "My time in Austin helped me greatly. The time I spent there, the games, the coaching staff, getting accustomed to the system there, helped a lot."

That system is the Spurs' greatest asset, coached at every level in every practice, and dependent on role players understanding their positioning, spacing, and assignments. Losing Parker would be a huge blow to San Antonio, no doubt, but doesn't preclude the Spurs from being able to take a 3-1 series lead in Game 4.

Their system is too well coached and their players too prepared for this not to be a fight, regardless of Parker's position.

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