The start of the 2013 NBA playoffs is just a month away, and teams are preparing to make a run to the NBA Finals.
The Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs are all looking to go deep in the playoffs, but are all without at least one of their best players.
L.A. has played as well as any team since the All-Star Break, other than the Miami Heat, but is currently without Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Derrick Rose hasn’t played a game this season and the Bulls are fighting to get out of the seventh seed in the East. The Spurs have the best record in the West, but Tony Parker hasn’t been on the court since March 1.
In order for any of these teams to have a chance of playing into June, their injured stars will have to return and be as effective as possible. Will each player be good to go when the postseason arrives?
Below is an update for each of the injured stars.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol
Bryant’s injury is less serious than that of his teammate. The shooting guard’s sprained ankle kept him out for the second straight night on Sunday as the Lakers played the Phoenix Suns. He’s listed as day-to-day and head coach Mike D’Antoni says Bryant will probably return Friday against the Washington Wizards.
Gasol suffered a setback with his foot injury this weekend, which has kept him out since Feb.5. The seven-footer is scheduled to have an ultrasound on Tuesday. D’Antoni, though, expects the big man to be cleared to practice this week.
Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose
With each week that goes by it seems more and more likely that Rose could go the whole season without playing a game. Over the weekend, Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that the point guard still isn’t close to taking the court.
“Nothing has changed,’’ Thibodeau said. “He keeps improving, he still has a ways to go.’’
Rose has been participating in practice, but says he won’t come back until he’s “110 percent.” The former MVP has given no indication when that might be, but hasn’t ruled out not playing at all.
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker
The Spurs point guard sprained his ankle at the beginning of the month and was scheduled to miss four weeks. San Antonio’s game with the Los Angeles Clippers on March 29 would be Parker’s return date if he’s on schedule. That would give Parker 11 games to finish out the season.
Last week, Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News that Parker could come back sooner than expected.
“I don't know if I'm being too hopeful, but I think it will be shorter than four weeks," said the head coach.
The Spurs are 5-2 since Parker’s injury.