Why Injury to the Spurs’ Tony Parker Means LA Lakers Will Face Tougher Playoffs

The San Antonio Spurs have been this season's surprising NBA success story.

Almost no one had predicted in the offseason that the Spurs would be the top team in the league, with most pundits citing the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat as the "team to beat."

Given that the Spurs were the seventh seed in the Western Conference last year, who despite beating the second-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round were swept by the Phoenix Suns in the conference semifinals, it's not surprising that the Spurs didn't top anyone's power rankings.

The Spurs, however, have surprised just about everyone this season, achieving a stunning 49-10 record going into last night's game with a six-game lead over the second-place Mavericks.

However, with the recent calf injury to Spurs star point guard Tony Parker, which is expected to keep him on the sidelines for up to four weeks, San Antonio is now in danger of losing its first-place momentum with just over 20 games left to play in the season.

The importance of Parker to the Spurs team could not be more evident in last night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies, who are just the current eighth seed in the West with a hardly intimidating 34-28 record.

Despite having beaten them just two nights before when Parker was still in the lineup until he went down with his injury in the second quarter, the Spurs were blown out by 16 points by the Grizzlies in last night's humiliating 109-93 loss.

Given that the red-hot Dallas Mavericks, who have won seven games in a row, are now just five games behind the Spurs for the Western Conference lead after winning their own game last night against the Sixers, the Spurs are in danger of losing their No. 1 seeding before Parker returns to the lineup.

Faced with a difficult schedule in the next four weeks that Parker is expected to be out,...

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