The Tony Parker Conundrum

Ronald Martinez

Mark Jackson is running Tony Parker ragged and the Spurs' offense and defense are struggling because of it.

Over the course of the regular season, Tony Parker emerged as the Spurs' best player and even earned some MVP consideration before an injury forced him to the sidelines for a few weeks. The Spurs need Tony to lead their offense in order to beat the Warriors.

Unfortunately, there is no one for Tony to guard in this series. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack are all too big for Tony to defend. We've seen it over and over already in this series. Mark Jackson is treating Tony like most coaches treat Matt Bonner. The ball goes to Tony's man and that guy attacks him. If Pop switches Tony's assignment, the ball follows. Mark Jackson has Tony's man run him through a myriad of screens, both legal and illegal, all game long.

It does two things. First, the Warriors score with ease and their confidence grows as the game's momentum swings. Second, it tires Tony Parker out. In these past two games, Tony looked winded and had dead legs in the fourth. He's been so tired that there's been transition opportunities for the Spurs that Tony never even attempted to join. Instead, he stayed on the other end of the floor, hunched over and sucking wind. I think Pop even sacrificed a few timeouts last night just to give Tony a chance to catch his breath. I've never seen Tony look so depleted during a game.

It's a matchup nightmare for Tony and it's wreaking havoc on the Spurs' defense and offense. Here's the thing; I don't know if there's an adjustment to be made. It's been mentioned, but I do not think benching Tony should be considered a plausible option. It's just not going to happen, and it shouldn't.

Out of the players available for Tony to defend, I think Curry is his best match, but Curry is capable of shooting right over the top of Parker any time he chooses. So, do we start doubling? I think that's a disaster because their entire team seems to be on fire and the games are moving to Oracle Arena. If they fell in San Antonio, you have to assume they'll fall in California.

Going big or going small really doesn't affect Tony's situation. Either way, the Warriors are going to run him to death and abuse his defense. I think the only solution is to give Tony more rest so he can give it his all every minute that he's on the floor. He needs to play closer to 30 minutes, not 40. While Tony is out, I don't like the idea of replacing him with Cory Joseph. CoJo brings all of Tony's defensive liabilities, because he is also too short to guard any of the Warriors' guards, and Cory can't make up for it on the offensive end like Tony potentially could. I think Manu or Neal need to assume the backup point guard duties while Tony sits. We need bigger bodies in there so that the Warriors' shooters are bothered. Maybe throw in TMac and see what happens?

I think the Spurs are shooting poorly because their offensive creator is too busy sucking wind to be effective. If Tony is too tired to be the Spurs' best player, the entire offense is going to sputter. Those open shots that the supporting cast feasted on all regular season are now contested. The driving lanes are closed. The Warriors' defense isn't shifting and the vaunted Spurs' system is broken.

Look, I really don't have answers here. (Obviously.) This is meant to be a discussion starter. What do you think? Am I completely overreacting? (I would love to be convinced that this is the case.) Is there an adjustment to be made? Is this a big deal or something that will just work itself out? Let's hear your thoughts, PtR.

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