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Question of the day: Of the top three teams in the NBA Eastern and Western conferences, which is most likely to fall by the wayside because of injury?

March 2, 2011 |  9:45 am

San_500 

Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel

Hasn't Tony Parker just answered that question, with all due respect to George Hill?

For months now, as the Spurs have extended their dominance, there has been the lingering doubt about the ability of such a veteran roster to endure. Now, with Parker out two to four weeks, are we starting to see the first cracks?

And that doesn't even address the minutes being rung up by Manu Ginobili, who annually stands as the league's most significant question mark at this stage of the season.

When whole, the Spurs have perennially proven to be championship worthy. But as a true ensemble composition, when even one piece is missing, everything tends to be a bit off-key.

With the depth of talent in the West, not even homecourt advantage might be enough for a San Antonio roster that is less than whole.

[Updated at 12:21 p.m.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

It seems strange to say that the league's most successful regular-season team will bow out of the playoffs because of an injury to a player who once was the main attraction and now is merely a piece. But even if Tim Duncan's role has changed on the now-perimeter-driven Spurs, his presence is needed for defense and rebounding. You know, the qualities that win come playoff time. Duncan has been remarkably reliable throughout his Hall of Fame career, so it'd be doubly sad to see such a great run felled by misfortune. But the Celtics could withstand an injury to one of their top players. So could the Lakers. The Heat couldn't, but I don't expect either Dwyane Wade or LeBron James to go down.

Baxter Holmes, Los Angeles Times

The top teams in the East are run by relatively healthy 26-and-under stars: Boston’s Rajon Rondo (25), Chicago’s Derrick Rose (22) and Miami’s LeBron James (26). It's unlikely any will go down, barring catastrophe. 

Out West, the chances that Kobe Bryant and/or Andrew Bynum will miss time, though, are sky-high because of their bum knees.

Bryant is vital, no duh, but Bynum's shot-altering presence changes games and gives the Lakers a chance against anyone, including San Antonio, at least once Tony Parker gets back for the playoff run.
But if their knees act up, which is nothing new, the Lakers won't survive, especially when they need all the firepower they can muster this season for a three-peat run against the many young-gun stars, star-studded rosters and veteran title contenders.]

Photo: San Antonio Spurs' George Hill, left, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Credit: Lance Murphey / Associated Press

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