SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker didn’t participate in practice on Wednesday, after an MRI revealed a Grade 1 hamstring strain.
He refused to speculate on his availability for Game 4, but he and Gregg Popovich confirmed to reporters at this morning’s shootaround that he would in fact be in the lineup for the Spurs on Thursday night.
“I will be ready to go,” Parker said, via Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News.
The hamstring limited Parker to just six points in 27 minutes of action in Game 3, but thanks to the play of Danny Green and and Gary Neal who combined for 51 points, San Antonio rolled to a 36-point victory.
Parker was the Spurs’ leading scorer during the regular season, and even if he’s limited by the injury, just having him out there initiating the offense is extremely important to what his team does on that end of the floor.
Heat players largely said they wouldn’t concern themselves with Parker’s status on Wednesday, and Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra echoed it from the top, stating that it’s more about his team’s effort than it is about who suits up for the opposition.
But being the competitor he is, Spoelstra wants to beat the Spurs at nothing less than 100 percent.
“If we bring the level of effort and focus that we brought [in Game 3], it doesn’t matter who plays for them,” Spoelstra said. “We’re hoping he plays. We want both teams to be healthy. We don’t want any excuses and they don’t want any excuses, either.”
There won’t be any excuses from either side now that Parker is officially a go for Game 4.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.