The San Antonio Spurs have built their reputation on team basketball, a style predicated on ball movement and offensive balance. That approach will be tested in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and potentially beyond this one contest.
After heading into the halftime break down 49-42, the Spurs announced that star point guard Tony Parker would not return for the second half due to a sore left ankle. As the Spurs returned to the floor to open the third quarter with reserve guard Cory Joseph in the lineup, cameras caught Parker icing his ankle on the bench.
As reported by David Aldridge during the TNT broadcast, Parker did not sustain this injury in Game 6. In fact, Parker has dealt with several minor injuries of late, to the point where team staff wasn't initially sure what was causing him pain. The Spurs originally thought it could be a problem with his left hamstring before focusing on the ankle. Aldridge also noted that Parker has been uncomfortable for two days and was not certain to play in Game 6 at all.
The ailment continues a run of several injury issues for Parker in this postseason. In the Spurs' second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Parker was held out of the second half of their series-clinching Game 5 win with a tight left hamstring. He was also considered day-to-day late in the Spurs' first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks due to a left ankle sprain, despite missing no time.
Given Parker's decent first half form (eight points on 3-of-6 shooting) and an apparent lack of high-impact aggravation in Game 6, it's possible that he is being held out simply as a precaution for a potential Game 7 on Monday or even the start of the NBA Finals, which begin next Thursday. Parker is about as essential a player as the Spurs have, but the team has proven especially adept at succeeding without their stars over the years. Every player on the roster seems especially well-prepared for unforeseen playing time or related changes.
Regardless, the absence of Parker could make a big difference to the postseason, particularly if he misses time beyond Game 6. We'll update this story as warranted.
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