Spurs overcome Tony Parker’s absence in series-clinching win

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The Oklahoma City Thunder have been a nightmare for the Spurs for years, and without Tony Parker, it felt like a miracle would have to take place for San Antonio to avoid a Game 7 that would assuredly involve a hobbled point guard that just happened to be the team’s best player.

But the Spurs inserted the ultra-aggressive Cory Joseph, and his energy provided a surge that not only carried the Spurs back into the game, but one that set the tone for the rest of the night.

Losing Parker was clearly unexpected, but it’s not like the Spurs hadn’t prepared all season for this. San Antonio ran out 30 different starting lineups this season, and Joseph was someone who was on the end of the string for not just this season, but for each of the past three.

He’s been back and forth from Austin to San Antonio; he’s been in and out of lineups framed around rest sequences or random injuries; Joseph has been constantly ready for whatever has come his way, and in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals he had his chance to make an indelible mark.

Of course, it went far beyond Joseph. The Spurs went into machine-mode, thwarting the efforts of two of the top five best players in the league to make at least one more appearance as the West’s representative in the NBA Finals. After all the years, it’s amazing it keeps happening.

Here we are, 17 years into the majestic career of Tim Duncan and the 18-ish-year reign of Gregg Popovich, and we’re still seeing them operate at near-peak efficiency. This team is better than any other in the Western Conference, and it’s almost amazing to watch exactly what’s been accomplished.

We’ll see what the deal is with Parker’s injuries, but it’s good he’s got a chance to rest in between. I’m going to get into more stuff tomorrow, but for now, just celebrate folks.

It’s worth it

  • DorieStreet

    I second the ‘celebration’ motion.
    Everybody (except the Silver & Black and its faithful followers) expected this team to shrivel up and fade away. Most of the basketball pundits picked three other western conference teams to make it to the finals.
    It’s the first week of June in 2014—-and the Spurs are still playing. GO SPUS GO!!!!!

  • John T.

    The obvious stat to take away from the playoffs…Spurs are 2-0 in close-out games when Tony Parker leaves midstream with injury. Very impressive.

  • Jimbo

    I’ve posted this before, but someone buy TP a damn ankle brace! They do not cause knee injuries! See the studies cited in http://www.podiatrytoday.com/blogged/rethinking-my-position-preventive-ankle-bracing-athletes

    I obviously am not a professional athlete, but I went from spraining my ankle once every couple of months to once every couple of years when I started wearing ankle braces (ASO brand, on the off chance anyone cares). Never felt so much as a twinge in my knee. It drives me nuts that NBA players view them as some sort of evil to be avoided.

    Anyway, great win last night. Old Man Timmy has still got it. And how many players in the league can make a strip-block on a charging Westbrook in transition? An amazing play by Leonard.

    I hate to even consider it, but maybe TP should sit out game 1. That would let him rest the ankle until next Sunday. His hamstring might appreciate it too. Even a week is a quick turnaround for a sprained ankle, and playing Thursday is really pushing it if it’s even a moderate sprain.

  • SanDiegoSpursFan

    What an amazing win…Kawhi went next-level, especially on defense. Manu and Timmy – talk about guts, leadership and perseverance.

    I loved the toughness this team displayed. We are absolutely a better team this year and in a better position to take what is ours.

    Go, Spurs, Go!!!!!!!!

  • Dennis

    This may shock everyone but I believe the Spurs are a better without Parker. He dribbles the ball to much and left the game with no assists in the first half. When he’s out Manu is a better facilitator and the ball moves so beautifully for the Spurs who don’t need a point guard who takes so many shots. Everyone gets more touches when he’s not on the floor and that’s better for all. It’s not surprising at all they closed out both the ‘Blazers and the Thunder without him. Sorry Timmy’s still the best they got along with Leonard.

  • jx1971

    Great win by the Spurs! And I agree with you re: Parker. Also, Parker’s injury issues in the playoffs recently concern me. I just don’t think he should be allowed to go play with French national team in the off-season. He’s been playing games year-round for a couple of years now. He could get away with that when he was younger, but at 30-something, that might not be such a good idea.

  • SpurredOn

    I recall during last year’s WCF, Jeff Van Gundy noting the PG depth of the Spurs, stating that Memphis would immediately make Joseph or Mills their backup to Conley. Even though the Spurs’ bench is acknowledged, the versatility the bench provides and experience it contains is not fully appreciated. That includes Mr. Joseph, he of the young legs, quick feet, and full knowledge of the system.

    I found myself thinking on how if it had been Ibaka’s injury that flared up, or Westbrook missing an entire half due to injury, how we’d be overwhelmed with self-assured yet inaccurate media stating that the Spurs only won in OKC and avoided a tiring gm7 on their old legs because of the injury; or shown again what their record is when Ibaka misses all or most of a game, but not the same for when Kawhi is out. Statements that fit the narrative but don’t tell a full story. It’s a compliment to the Spurs team that such excuses are rarely if ever used in their defense, largely because they so often play through it and win, though also because any Spurs injury is viewed through the “age” lens even if it’s Tiago or Kawhi missing time. For all the mention of Ibaka’s health in this series, I was disappointed though not shocked that more mention was not given on Parker’s health. One could see in every game that he was not full speed or very aggressive. It was noticeable on both ends.

    Finally, it’s great to see how the Spurs also cause problems for OKC that most no other team does. These teams have gone at it in spurts, with the Spurs having a 10-1 win-loss run of success vs the young, athletic group, followed by OKC having a 10-2 run, and now the Spurs on a 4-2 run. Looking at their head to head the past four years, one can imagine it’ll be just as even going forward:
    2011 Spurs 3-1 Thunder
    2012 Spurs 4-5 Thunder
    2013 Spurs 2-2 Thunder
    2014 Spurs 4-6 Thunder

  • JasonKidRules

    Only TP’s mother is shocked. It’s all about the matchups. Against full OKC (with Ibaka), Spurs are a better team without TP; there is no place to hide TP poor defense and he is terrified from Ibaka. For this game TP -11, CoJo +7. “Spurs overcome Tony Parker’s presence” should be the title for this article. Against Miami, Spurs will do it better with TP in the floor if he is healthy (Playing him in this game was a Popovich’s mistake). So I hope TP gets well soon enough. I do believe Spurs will beat Miami with or without Parker.

  • Ali

    I couldn’t disagree with you two more. when Pop says he’s the head of the snake trust me he’s the head of the snake. we won a half lets not overreact. in playoffs you need someone to take-over and TP takes over. let’s not forget when he’s on top of his game how many wide-open shots Green and company gets.

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