The Spurs (4-3) are going through changes, as ever. A full year removed from the Tim Duncan era and a few years into the Kawhi Leonard era, the winningest NBA team over the last two decades remains (somehow) in the Tony Parker-Manu Ginobili era. Parker won’t play tonight against the Golden State Warriors in a matchup that features the teams that finished 2016-17 with the NBA’s best records. Leonard won’t suit up — he has yet to play this season due to a quadriceps injury and Coach Gregg Popovich‘s customary caution. But the cog that’s been missing perhaps even more than Leonard is Parker, who ruptured his left quadriceps tendon against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last year. There is good news and bad news on Parker. The good news is Parker was just recalled to the team after putting the final touches on his rehab in the G-League. The bad news is Parker won’t play against the Warriors, who visit San Antonio for an 8pm game that’ll be broadcast on TNT.
Parker will have to exert leadership from outside the lines as he returns to the team. Without Leonard or Parker, the Spurs are an underdog even at home against the defending champion Warriors — even if the Warriors (5-3) haven’t been dominant so far. No one will need reminding that the Spurs led by nearly 30 points in Game 1 of the Conference Finals before Zaza Pachulia’s foot sent Kawhi Leonard and San Antonio’s chances sprawling to the floor in agony. The Warriors swept the Spurs after the injury. Ginobili, whom Popovich has called the “most competitive person” he’s ever known, will try to play hard enough tonight for Parker and himself combined. Parker figures to play again next week.