Rockets Know Spurs Pose Major Challenge, Even Without Parker

In close to five seasons with the Rockets, Patrick Beverley has had his fair share of battles with Spurs guard Tony Parker, but the relationship between the two goes back further.

“He’s always been a good person to me even when I was a Miami Heat, always gave me words of wisdom,” Beverley said Thursday after the Spurs announced the point guard would miss the rest of the postseason with a ruptured left quad. “Definitely praying for Tony, me and my family definitely are. I really enjoyed the challenge this series with Tony. Pushed me to be locked in each and every game cause I know the capabilities he has on a game of basketball, so it’s unfortunate.”

Parker went down in the fourth quarter of the Spurs 121-96 win in game two Wednesday night, and an MRI confirmed the worst. Before the injury, Parker scored 18 points on 13 shots, and averaged 16.3 points per game on 53 percent shooting in the playoffs. Even with his regular scoring average at its lowest point since his rookie season a decade in a half ago, the Rockets know this is a major loss for San Antonio.

He’s been a staple in their organization for so long,” forward Trevor Ariza said. “He’s done so many things for them in the playoffs, throughout the regular season, just him not being there is going to be a huge hole for them.”

Parker has played in 221 straight playoff games, so when the Spurs take the Toyota Center floor for game three Friday night, It will be the first time since May 27, 2001 they will do so in the playoffs without Parker. San Antonio lost by 29 points that night in Los Angeles, which completed a Western Conference Finals sweep.

“It sucks to see somebody go down that way especially for what he brings to their team,” Ariza said. “I don’t know how you replace that. I’m not saying that they don’t have good enough players to step in, but what he brought to that team, I think it’s unmatched.”

Having competed against him for much of Parker’s 15-year NBA career, there are very people in the NBA that understand his value as much as Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, and he said that he hated to see the future hall of famer go down, even though it helps his team’s chances of advancing to the Western Conference Finals.

“I hate it for Tony,” he said. “He’s a great guy, not a good guy, he’s a great guy, and that’s tough. You hate to see that with anybody, especially being that serious, but having said that, they still have plenty, and Patty (Mills) will run it I’m sure, then we’ll see what they do. They might just stay big, or they could go with another little guy.”

Mills played 22 minutes a game this season, the most he’s played in his eight year career, but the question that won’t get answered until the game actually starts is what do the Spurs do when 28-year old Aussie goes to the bench. Head coach Gregg Popovich could elect to play without a point guard, and give the ball handling duties to one of his wings or he could elect to hand the keys to the Spurs offense to rookie point guard Dejounte Murray. The 29th pick of last year’s draft started eight games this season, but he’s logged just 23 minutes in the playoffs. Murray didn’t play against the Rockets this season, but if he gets the call, Beverley will be ready for him.

“We have a great coaching staff and they do a great job of scouting, so we know all their guards, we know all their bigs,” he said. “Being a professional, I have to be familiar with everybody and I have been.”

Regardless of what the Spurs do, and who the Spurs decide to play, Beverley knows they won’t just roll over because of one injury.

“They’re a machine, you know how Pop is. One person falls down, the next person steps up.”

More from Adam Spolane
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