Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 4/1/13
Dallas-mavericks-san
Here we go again. For the San Antonio Spurs, losing a significant piece for a significant time to the title-contending puzzle is commonplace. These Spurs are used to playing without Timmy or Tony or Manu and winning in their absence. In the regular season, mind you. San Antonio has already played a good stretch of this season without Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Tim Duncan, knock on hardwood, has remained upright as the games remaining before the real season starts slip into single digits. Now comes the word that Ginobili may miss up to a month with a strained right hamstring. Do the math, we're in April. The regular season ends April 17. Manu for the start of postseason isn't looking too realistic, if the timetable of 3-4 weeks is to be trusted. This is one tough break. Obviously not Kevin Ware tough, but maybe just as crippling to the Spurs' chances of squeezing one more title out of their Three Amigos. San Antonio skipper Gregg Popovich maneuvers through all 82 games of the regular season with his team's health a top priority. Being healthy and rested for the postseason is the goal, more so than claiming the No. 1 seed overall or in the Western Conference. The Spurs aren't worried about having the homecourt edge for every series. They're not intimidated by playing in enemy buildings against hostile crowds. This is a battle-tested bunch, at its core, that understands what it takes to be the last team standing, even if it's been six years since they were. What the Spurs didn't want was to be short-handed. Sure, they're arguably the deepest squad in the league, and that depth helps mask the times they're without Timmy or Tony or Manu. You can get by with Cory Joseph and Patty Mills filling in for Parker or Stephen Jackson picking up the slack when Ginobili is down. The Spurs recently went 6-2 without their starting French playmaker. But that's during the regular season. Popovich can piece together gameplans and hide injuries on a Tuesday night in Minnesota. There's no band aid big enough to hide those wounds during the playoffs. There is no substitute on the Spurs' roster that can do what Nos. 21, 20 and 9 can do when the stakes are at their highest. The loss of Ginobili was surely felt in Sunday's showdown loss to Miami. Yes, the Heat were without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but they're still elite and they exploited the absence of Ginobili to slow down the Spurs offensively. "Without Manu, Tony is a guy who has to generate things for us and they pretty much took him out with all of their double teams and hard hedge," Popovich said. "We didnt generate offense anywhere else except through Timmy." Teams can scheme to take out Parker, as the Heat did, knowing that Manu isn't there to create havoc on the perimeter. The entire San Antonio dynamic changes when that happens. The Spurs' system relies on players knowing their roles and playing off Timmy and Tony and Manu. They need those guys intact. San Antonio's 2011 playoff stay ended in the first round, despite being the top seed in the West. Ginobili, as you remember, tried to fight his way through that Memphis series with a bum elbow. He wasn't right same, and neither were the Spurs, who lost in six to the eighth-seeded Grizzlies. That's not to say these Spurs can't get by this season's No. 8 squad should they hold onto No. 1. (San Antonio currently has a 1 12-game lead on Oklahoma City.) Yet, getting past the Lakers or Jazz or Mavericks gets that much more difficult without Manu in the mix. And should the Spurs fall before the second round, it won't be difficult to pinpoint the reason. Should they move on and get Manu back healthy and in rhythm, San Antonio has enough to get out of the West. No Manu, no shot.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Report: Luke Walton will not consider coaching offers until offseason

Budweiser: Peyton Manning not paid for Super Bowl beer plug

Archie Manning: 'I think Peyton's done in Denver'

Donald Trump: I told Tom Brady not to endorse me for President

Marshawn Lynch: Complicated and talented NFL anti-hero

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Hue Jackson lets Manziel and ex know they aren’t alone

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

Tyronn Lue faces backlash for Cavs record since Blatt’s firing

Report: LeSean McCoy assaulted off duty Philly police officers

John Elway was right, the Broncos didn’t need a Plan B

Canadiens and Sharks starting to gauge trade market

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

Top defensive performances in Super Bowl history

FBI questions Jeremy Shockey about drug and gambling ring

Coldplay drummer thought Johnny Football was real name

Ranking every game from 2015 NFL Playoffs

PHOTO: Panthers LB shows gruesome arm injury after SB

Patriots, Panthers early Super Bowl 51 favorites

Von Miller trolls Cam Newton, Panthers

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker