San Antonio's run of injuries has gotten absurd in a hurry, as the team announced on Wednesday that Manu Ginobili is set to miss 3-4 weeks with a strained hamstring. That makes for the fourth major blow to San Antonio's rotation since the turn of the calendar year; in addition to Ginobili's absence, the Spurs will also have to do without Kawhi Leonard (broken hand), Tiago Splitter (shoulder sprain), and Danny Green (broken hand) over the next few weeks.
Ginobili is believed to have strained his hamstring midway through the third quarter in Tuesday's game against the Rockets. With 6:12 remaining in the frame, Ginobili pump-faked Houston's Chandler Parsons on the perimeter and drove left around a Tim Duncan screen. He was able to get all the way to the rim to finish over Jeremy Lin with a left-handed dunk, but Ginobili immediately reached for his hamstring upon landing and came up hobbling on his way back down the court.
Video via Eye on Basketball.
He wasn't able to defend Parsons on the next possession, and would eventually be subbed out of the game for good at the 4:58 mark.
Thus interrupts what had been a strong season for Ginobili, who to date has made a compelling candidacy for the Sixth Man of the Year award. He rebounded nicely from an inauspicious NBA Finals series, and ranks second on the team behind Tony Parker in both points and assists per minute. There is no straightforward replacement for his dynamism and playmaking under normal circumstances, much less with San Antonio already gutted by other injuries.
His absence puts the Spurs in a bad way, as Gregg Popovich is now down three players in an already light wing rotation. With Leonard and Green out, San Antonio had been using guards Cory Joseph and Patty Mills to fill wing minutes as needed, along with rotation mainstay Marco Belinelli and recent 10-day contract signee Othyus Jeffers. That's hardly the depth chart of a defending Western Conference champion, but this is what the Spurs have been reduced to by a series of tough breaks. To the remaining active players on San Antonio's roster: Watch your step, strap on your helmets and wear team-dispensed bubble wrap at all times, please.
For an at-a-glance look at when the Spurs' wounded might be cleared to resume play, consult the following calendar (lines indicate projected absence):
To see a bigger version of the Spurs' injury calendar, click here.On the bright side, Splitter reportedly could return as soon as this weekend, making it unlikely that he's sidelined until Feb. 9 -- the latest of his initial 3-5 week timetable. Green would be the next due back, and his return would at least give the Spurs one more able body to fill minutes at either wing position. It's unlikely, however, that either Leonard or Ginobili will be back in the lineup until after the All-Star break. That four-day respite will be much appreciated, I imagine; between now and then San Antonio will embark on a 10-day, six-game road stint -- the opening stretch of the Spurs' annual "rodeo trip." The All-Star break fortunately offers relief before the final three road games to wind down the rodeo's stay in San Antonio, buying Leonard and Ginobili precious time in the process.