Spurs vs. Bucks: Depleted Spurs host NBA’s worst
Tiago Splitter: sprained shoulder. Danny Green: fractured hand. Matt Bonner: fractured nose. Tony Parker: bruised shin. These are the injuries the Spurs are dealing with heading into tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. On one hand, the Spurs should consider themselves lucky they haven’t had the season altering injuries the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder and a handful of other teams have faced. Still, these injuries have their own impact. Guys are forced to play more, fatigue sets in faster.
This is the setting for tonight’s game. Tony Parker appeared to struggle mightily in the second half of the Spurs’ Friday night loss to the Portland Trailblazers. According to the San Antonio Express News’ Mike Monroe, he’ll sit tonight to rest that injured shin. This is probably a good idea since Wednesday’s game is against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Matt Bonner’s status is up in the air. After the game, the team said he could play while wearing a protective mask, but an update hasn’t been given as of Sunday morning. The Spurs have recalled Malcolm Thomas from the Austin Toros and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him get time. Right now the big man depth is Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Jeff Ayres and Aron Baynes. In 10 games with the Toros, Thomas is averaging 15.2 points and 9.4 rebounds a game on 57 percent shooting a not half bad 34 percent from 3-point range. Now that he has some familiarity with the Spurs system after a month in Austin, it’d be good to see him on the AT&T Center court.
Past that, tonight also marks the return of Gary Neal to San Antonio. Neal’s numbers in Milwaukee suggests he’s the same old gunner the Spurs brought off their bench. The problem is the team he’s on is considerably different from San Antonio, and I’m not talking about anything on the court. Apparently the Bucks are already trying to move Neal after a dust up he had with Larry Sanders in the locker room. I’m sure the Bucks’ motivation in trading Neal doesn’t just have to do with the Sanders thing, but rather that he was signed to help the Bucks reach the playoffs and things clearly haven’t gone to plan. Neal isn’t the type of player that should be toiling away on a 7-32 team.
This is another game the Spurs should win and again, they don’t normally lose the ones they’re supposed to win. Now that we know Parker is out, the next question is how much will Tim Duncan play. Oh, how much fun will it be watching Kawhi Leonard match up with Giannis Antetokounmpo. If you haven’t seen that guy yet, enjoy. Tip-off from the AT&T Center is set for 6 p.m.