The San Antonio Spurs are looking to rebound for their second loss in 18 games against the Golden State Warriors and they’ll have to do it without Tony Parker. When the Spurs take on the Phoenix Suns in the final of their nine-game Rodeo Trip, Parker will not play because of a bruise on the back of his right arm (technically a right triceps contusion for you anatomy nerds). However, that’s actually a good thing for a Spurs team trying to nail down its new identity, especially after a failed experiment against the Warriors.
Parker wasn’t himself during the loss to Golden State because of the injury, but the Spurs used the situation as a test for a more passive approach for Parker and it didn’t turn out the way they wanted it. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili shouldered the scoring and distribution load on offense rather than those duties being delegated to the Other Big Three–Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal. So now that Parker is out, the Spurs get another shot with the experiment against the lowly Suns on the road.
The Spurs’ first game back at home on Wednesday will also be against the Suns, so they’ll get a second shot at the test if Parker is able to play then. But for the true test without him, San Antonio will look to push the pressure of the game on the Other Big Three with the other two members of the Big Three (say that three times fast) on the floor. Leonard, Green and Neal have been on the floor with Parker this season with either Duncan and/or Ginobili, but not with the latter two together and without the former.
Ideally, the Spurs will win in a blowout with the Other Big Three being the top scorers and the assists being distributed evenly between them and the other two members of the Big Three. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal to those unfamiliar with the Spurs, but it’s actually a monumental test for a team trying to solidify its new identity before the playoffs in hopes to avoid running into a brick wall like it did last year in the Western Conference Finals.