Parker’s Play: A Cause For Concern

San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker has been polarizing, to say the least, in the 2014 playoffs. With the exception of game four, where he was cold almost all night, Parker has been fantastic in the first half, but less than pedestrian in the second half. Why is that the case?

Here are his stats split by half:

Game 1: First Half: 7-10 FG, 17 Points, 2 Assists

Second Half: 2-6 FG, 4 Points, 4 Assists

Game 2: First Half: 3-8 FG, 8 Points, 1 Assist

Second Half: 2-2 FG, 4 Points, 2 Assists

Game 3: First Half: 8-13 FG, 17 Points, 6 Assists

Second Half: 1-5 FG, 2 Points, 0 Assists

Game 4: First Half: 3-9 FG, 6 Points, 0 Assists

Second Half: 2-5 FG, 4 Points, 2 Assists

Totals: 12 Turnover, 18 Assists (3:2 Ratio) in playoffs

151 Turnovers, 388 Assists (2.57:1) in regular season

Theory #1: Tony Parker is injured

This is not about last night’s ankle roll. That may have affected him last night, but he wasn’t playing well beforehand, and it didn’t seem to bother him anywhere past the actual play when he traveled.

The current update on that is that he was sore and limping a bit coming out of the locker room last night. The Spurs do have a day off today, so he will have time to rest or get x-rays if he needs to.

Rather, this is about his back injury suffered in early April. The injured facet joint can easily be flaring up when he has the time during the break to sit. Sitting and being still can cause a back to tense up, which could affect his speed and jump shot on the offensive end.

Theory #2: It’s late in the season. Parker is just gassed.

Again, this isn’t as obvious as it would seem. Tony Parker played in the fourth least games of his career this season. So why would he be so tired?

The Spurs made the extended playoff run last year, all the way to game seven of the NBA Finals. The only way they could’ve played more games was if Dwight Howard made even the slightest bit of effort in Los Angeles or if Memphis played like they are playing Oklahoma City right now. A few months later, Parker went over to Slovenia and played 11 games in the EuroBasket 2013 Tournament where he led the France National Team to their first ever title. That took a lot of energy. A lot of energy he was already lacking.

Theory #3: Axelle Francine

Parker’s baby momma is just about waiting to pop. The reports came out last week about the possibility of Parker having to miss a game in the playoffs, because his fiancé was very close to have their baby. No man wants to miss the birth of his firstborn. It’s unlikely, but he could be having fears about missing the birth because he is on the basketball court.

Theory #4: Dallas defense production

A lot was said about how weak the Maverick’s defense was heading into the NBA playoffs. They have quickly debunked those doubts. The defensive game plan on Parker has worked quite well. On top of that, his assists are down, in part, because Dallas will not leave the shooters open on the outside. Most of Parker’s assists have come on the pick-and-roll or after he is able to penetrate and dump it off to Duncan, Diaw, or Splitter.

We have seen in the past (i.e. Thabo Sefolosha in 2012 WCF) that Parker has had problems in the past with length. If Shawn Marion is not defined as length, there is nobody that is. Except maybe Kawhi Leonard. But he’s not going to guard Parker. Unless he plays for the Florida Gators.

All this being said, it is probably a combination of all factors, especially number one and two.

Parker is still the biggest key to winning this series. He will have to play better for the Spurs to win the all-important game five.

Game five is Wednesday, slated for an early 6 P.M. start.

Andrew Ball

About Andrew Ball

Andrew is a Texas A&M graduate and has written for ProjectSpurs since April 2014.