San Antonio’s Tony Parker needs surgery to fix his left leg and won’t play again until next season. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry is dealing with a nasty sprained ankle. Utah’s George Hill is sitting out with a bad toe.
Be careful out there, NBA starting point guards.
Playoff injuries are piling up, with no team immune.
Parker’s season-ending injury - suspected when he needed to be carried off the floor on Wednesday night, confirmed by the Spurs on Thursday - will have enormous on-court effect, since it means for the first time since 2001 San Antonio will go into a playoff game without the four-time NBA champion guard in uniform.
But go down the list of every starting point guard on all eight remaining teams, and everyone is dealing with something.
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving was slowed near the end of the regular season by knee soreness, though seems fine so far in the postseason. Houston’s James Harden, Washington’s John Wall and Golden State’s Stephen Curry have all tweaked ankles, yet escaped major harm. Boston’s Isaiah Thomas is playing with a heavy heart following the tragic and sudden death of his sister, and in a remarkable show of strength his game has stayed sharp.
Imagine an NFL postseason where every starting quarterback is ailing.
This is basically the NBA equivalent.
“Just sucks to see anybody go down, no matter who it was,” Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan said Thursday, when asked about Lowry and how that will impact the Raptors going forward. “Just one of them things. When it rains it pours at this point.”
Both of Friday’s games will have big questions at the point. The Spurs will be without Parker, and the Raptors don’t know how effective Lowry will be - or if he can play, period. San Antonio goes to Houston for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series that’s knotted 1-1, while Toronto is in desperate need of a win against Cleveland in Game 3 of their East semi matchup. The Cavaliers lead there 2-0.
Here’s some of what to know going into Friday’s games:
Cavaliers at Raptors, Cleveland leads 2-0. Game 3, 7 p.m., ESPN.
NEED TO KNOW: LeBron James and the Cavaliers have won nine straight games going back to last year’s playoffs. Another win on Friday would match the longest playoff winning streak of James’ career. James is shooting 62 percent in the series, and his teams are 19-8 all-time in Toronto.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Cory Joseph. He might have been Toronto’s bright spot in Game 2 with 22 points in 25 minutes, and he’ll have to play a big role in Game 3 if the Raptors are going to make this a series.
INJURY UPDATE: Lowry (ankle) is questionable.
PRESSURE IS ON: Toronto, big-time. The Raptors are 4-4 so far in these playoffs, sputtered a bit before getting things right against Milwaukee, and know that a 3-0 deficit would make this series outcome inevitable. (It might already be that way, considering James has never wasted so much as a 2-0 series lead.) If the Raptors have a trick left to play, now’s the time.
Spurs at Rockets, series tied 1-1. Game 3, 9:30 p.m., ESPN.
NEED TO KNOW: Parker’s streak of 221 consecutive playoff appearances will end. The last time he didn’t appear in a Spurs playoff game was 2001 against the Lakers, when David Robinson was still starting (and a game where Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue were both on the floor as backups when time expired). The Rockets won Game 1 by 27; the Spurs won Game 2 by 25.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Harden. He says he’s fine, but he’s shooting only 31 percent from the field in his last four games (9 for 30 so far in this series), and a really troubling 19 percent from 3-point range in that span. Plus, he’s gotten to the line just 11 times in the two games against the Spurs - a bit low for him.
INJURY UPDATE: Parker (left quadriceps) is out.
PRESSURE IS ON: Houston. Losing Parker is huge for San Antonio, obviously. But Kawhi Leonard is still there, so is Gregg Popovich, and the Spurs aren’t going to change their philosophy now. The Rockets surely sense opportunity.
Associated Press Writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed.
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