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Tony Parker Injury Could Cost Spurs Home-Court Advantage in Playoffs

The San Antonio Spurs enter this week with the NBA's best record, which they have had for much of the season. They lead the Oklahoma City Thunder by three games for the West's top seed and home-court advantage throughout that conference's playoffs. San Antonio also is a couple of games ahead of East-leading Miami for potential home-court advantage in an NBA Finals matchup.

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The Spurs have proven time and time again they can win even without injured stars Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, but holding off the Heat and/or Thunder could now be a challenge with Parker expected to miss a month. Parker suffered a badly sprained left ankle after landing on the foot of Sacramento's Isaiah Thomas after finishing a layup in Friday's blowout of the Kings.

Parker is having perhaps his best season, worthy of MVP consideration – although clearly LeBron James will be taking home that award again. Parker leads the team in minutes (33.0 per game), scoring (21.0 ppg), assists (7.6) and player efficiency rating (24.3).

The team didn't much miss Parker on Sunday as the Spurs crushed visiting Detroit 114-75, their most lopsided win of the season. Seldom-used second-year player Cory Joseph started for Parker and finished with eight points, four assists and two steals in a season-high 18 minutes. That's typical San Antonio in that an unheralded player steps in and plays well for a sidelined starter. The win improved the Spurs to 4-1 this season without Parker (5-0 ATS).

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Parker has proven to be a quick healer in the past, missing only a week in 2011 with a sprained calf that was expected to sideline him a month. If Parker does miss the full month, that would be around 13 more games, including matchups against contenders Oklahoma City, Denver, the L.A. Clippers and Miami (Parker, Duncan and Ginobili all missed the first meeting with the Heat).

The good news is that seven of San Antonio's next eight games are at home, where the Spurs are 24-3 (15-10-2 ATS). The not-so-good news is that San Antonio plays seven-consecutive games against teams that currently would qualify for the playoffs, beginning March 20 against Golden State.

San Antonio certainly would like to have Parker back by April 4 at Oklahoma City, which could be an important tiebreaker game. The Spurs and Thunder have split two meetings thus far and also play at the AT&T Center next Monday. Oklahoma City's schedule is much easier the rest of the month. OKC is the Bovada Western Conference favorite at 8/5 with San Antonio at 12/5. The Spurs had home-court advantage for last year's West Finals versus the Thunder but lost the series in six games after winning the first two.

Early-Week Live Betting Schedule

On Wednesday, the book offers Bulls at Spurs for Live Betting. Chicago backers received some hope that Derrick Rose might make his season debut soon as Rose watched Sunday's loss at Indiana from the bench. It's the first time Rose has done that all season as he works his way back from ACL surgery. Both Rose and coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose on the bench had no significance in terms of Rose's return. Chicago played without regulars Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton and Taj Gibson on Sunday and all three are likely to sit out Wednesday – Gibson will for sure.

The Bulls were dominated at home on February 11 by the Spurs 103-89, even as they played without Parker, Duncan and Ginobili. Check back Thursday for a weekend Live Betting preview at the book.

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