SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs point guard Tony Parker, slowed by a hamstring injury, hopes to play in Game 4 but said he and coach Gregg Popovich will not decide until they see how he feels on Thursday.
An MRI revealed Parker has a Grade 1 strain, which is the mildest level of strain. He did not participate in light shooting drills that were open to the media on Wednesday.
“I’m day to day,” said Parker, who sustained the injury early in the second half of Game 3. “It depends on when I wake up [Thursday], how I feel.”
He said he would not play if this were a regular season game.
“I want to wait until [Thursday] before I make a decision whether he should play or not,” Popovich said. “A lot will have to do with what happens to him during the day, and how I think his play will affect our team, whether good or bad.”
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said if Parker misses the game, “or if we have him limited, it’s going to be very, very difficult. We need his speed, his judgment, his pick and roll.”
Several Spurs opined on LeBron James’ offensive struggles.
“It’s LeBron stopping himself out there,” guards Danny Green said. “I hope he continues to miss shots… Normally, you don’t see this happening to the best guys in the league in the Finals.”
Ginobili said when James “gets to the paint, we’re all there. We’re not giving him lanes to the rim.”
Green said he and Kawhi Leonard each defended James about the same amount in Game 3. “We’re just contesting all his shots,” Leonard said.
Said Tim Duncan: “We’re guarding him with five guys.”
According to Elias, Spurs backup guard Gary Neal’s 24 points in Game 3 were the most by an undrafted player in an NBA Finals game since John Starks scored 27 for the Knicks against Houston in Game 6 of the 1994 Finals.
Neal played in Turkey, Italy and Spain before finally making it to the NBA this season. The Spurs gave him an unexpected invitation to a minicamp, then invited him to join their summer league team in Las Vegas, which he parlayed into a training camp invitation.
Accepting the Vegas invitation last summer meant canceling a trip to Atlantis for his honeymoon. “I had to kind of just smooth it over with my wife,” he said. “She decided it would be a good thing if we went to Vegas instead, so I could make an NBA push.”
• Neal, who averaged 9.5 points in 68 games this season, is hardly the only Spurs’ only somewhat surprising success story. Green, cut three times previously (including twice by the Spurs) leads all scorers in this series with 56 points — more than James’ 50 and Dwyane Wade’s 43.
Green said if somebody told him a week ago that he would be leading the NBA Finals in scoring through three games, “I would say, ‘You’re lying. Stop messing with me.’”
His 16 three-pointers are the most over three NBA Finals games in history, topping Ray Allen’s previous mark of 15.
Popovich said when he signed Green for a third time, his former coach at North Carolina ( Roy Williams) talked to him about having the confidence to sustain an NBA career.
“Coach Williams really convinced me that he deserved another shot,” he said.
• Since the NBA Finals went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985, 12 series have been tied 1-1 after two games. The Game 3 winner had gone on to win 92 percent of those series.
• After posting 34 and 29.7 ratings for the first two Finals games, WPLG-10 generated a 28.4 for Game 3, a number diminished by the lopsided score in the fourth quarter. Substantially more Dade/Broward residents watched Game 7 of the Heat-Pacers Eastern Finals than any Finals game so far, according to Nielsen Media Research.