In Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich elected to play Tony Parker about half of the minutes he typically does. The reason for that was because Parker told him his prior to the game that his left ankle, which had gave him issues throughout the postseason, was becoming even more bothersome. The good news is the five days of rest has allowed the star point guard to be ready for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.
Parker’s health will play a critical role in the Spurs having any chance of defeating the Heat. His postseason team-high 17.2 points and 4.9 assists per game is the obvious reason why San Antonio needs him available in every contest. A less obvious reason is that Parker is the general on the floor for the Spurs. He is what makes the offense tick and gives the other players confidence that they can emerge victorious. Sure, San Antonio was able to close out Oklahoma City in the second half of Game 6 without Parker, but the reality is that probably will not happen against a far more talented Miami team.
The biggest issue fans may have is that Parker’s hamstring strain last year in the NBA Finals played a role in the team falling in seven games. Even though his 15.7 points, 6.4 assists and 41.2 percent from the field are unbelievable statistics for someone who was fighting an injury, one has to wonder if the outcome would have been different if he was 100 percent healthy. Unfortunately, we will not be able to know this time around either because Parker’s left ankle is not going to be going away anytime soon.
Regardless, Parker is very confident that he will be able to fight through the pain and lead his team to another NBA title, while also preventing Miami from winning a third consecutive championship. Game 1, which tips off Thursday, will be a good indication of how much Parker will be able to contribute.