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Tony Parker goes MIA in Game 5, but Spurs advance to Western Conference Finals

May 15, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT

Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich

Where’s Tony Parker?

That question dominated the first half as the San Antonio Spurs point guard left the court and bench without suffering an obvious injury. Turns out, his hamstring tightened, and the Spurs ruled him out at halftime – potentially a real concern going forward.

But there were no questions about Kawhi Leonard’s whereabouts.

He was everywhere.

Leonard (22 points on three 3-pointers and two dunks, seven rebounds and five steals) made plays all over the court to lead the San Antonio to a 104-82 series-closing win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

With their 4-1 series victory, the Spurs join the Heat as the only teams to make the conference finals each of the last three years. But whether San Antonio returns to the NBA Finals, let alone wins them, might hinge on Parker.

Parker’s backup, Patty Mills (18 points, three steals, zero turnovers in 26 minutes), filled in admirably. But winning with depth, as the Spurs have done to this point, gets much more difficult when the field narrows. Parker is a true star, someone who has repeatedly elevated his game as the playoffs go deeper. That’s whom San Antonio needs.

And there’s reason to believe the Spurs will get Parker back soon.

“I think it’s more precaution than anything,” said Tim Duncan, whose 16 points and eight rebounds helped ensure the Spurs could comfortably rest Parker on Wednesday. “Just don’t want to get him any more hurt.”

At least San Antonio will get extra rest before facing the Thunder or Clippers, and that can only help Parker heal.

In wins in Games 1-3, the Spurs led at halftime by 26, 19 and 20 at halftime. In their Game 4 loss, they trailed by two at the break.

Wednesday, they led by just seven at halftime – a comfortable position to be certain, but one indicative of a team no longer possessing an unbreakable lock on the series. The only other time the Trail Blazers got this close after two quarters, Game 4, they ran away with it in the third.

“We might have ran out of a little energy in the last game,” Duncan admitted.

San Antonio quickly ensured that wouldn’t be repeated in Game 5, opening the third quarter on an 8-0 run. Thanks to Danny Green making all five of his second-half shots on the way to 22 points, the Spurs led by double digits the rest of the way.

The Trail Blazers’ run ends here, and they were an exciting team that got in over their heads – way over their heads. But this season was a resounding success for Portland, which reached the playoffs for the first time in three years and won a postseason series for the first time in 14.

Portland’s stars – Damian Lillard (17 points and 10 assists) and LaMarcus Aldridge (21 points and 10 rebounds) – had double-doubles in the season ender, but neither really gave San Antonio much reason for concern. They’re not quite good enough to beat a great team like the Spurs, especially with so little bench help.

Next season, the Trail Blazers can get better. They’re young enough to expect significant internal growth, and using the mid-level exception wouldn’t take them into the luxury tax.

But the West is tough, and breaking into the upper echelon is a daunting task. Again and again this series, the Spurs proved that.

  1. realfootballfan - May 15, 2014 at 1:21 AM

    Now, the Spurs sit and hope for their nightmare matchup with OKC to be avoided in some way.

    • antistratfordian - May 15, 2014 at 2:28 AM

      It’s going to be a nightmare matchup for them either way. If Dallas can take them to 7, and a completely green Portland team can beat them by 20, then they’re going to have their hands full against either the Clippers or the Thunder. Then if they’re lucky enough to survive that, they’re going to have to face Miami again – with LeBron remembering the lessons of last year’s Game 7 (let it fly).

      The Heat won’t need 7 games this year.

      • robigd - May 15, 2014 at 7:44 AM

        Lets hope we get the “I should have been MVP” Westbrook who steals shots from Durant and plays hero ball.

      • bucrightoff - May 15, 2014 at 8:37 AM

        The Heat will be lucky to not get swept by San Antonio. Miami barely won last year and s appreciably worse this year. San Antonio is arguably better. So you’d better hope OKC takes care of them or it’ll be a 2-3 Finals record for LeBron.

      • antistratfordian - May 15, 2014 at 6:26 PM

        -_________-

        Miami has LeBron James, San Antonio does not. End of story.

      • savvybynature - May 15, 2014 at 11:02 AM

        When did Portland beat them by 20? Are last season’s regular season games somehow now relevant to this year’s playoffs?
        Seems obvious you don’t know what you are talking about and are just schlobbin that Lebron knob like corn on the cob

      • antistratfordian - May 15, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        Well, you know, on Monday in the 4th quarter the Blazers were up by about 20 on thine Spurs. The final score was closer – something like 11 or 12 – but the game wasn’t that close.

      • robigd - May 15, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        The success of Miami depends on their role players being exceptional. Thus far in big games, they have been.

      • antistratfordian - May 15, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        They have to be exceptional? Like when Chris Bosh, Ray Allen and Mike Miller scored 0 points in Game 7 of the Finals last year?

        The success or failure of Miami depends on whether or not a team can make LeBron average 17 ppg on 47% in the Finals like he did in 2011. And I’m not seeing that happening.

      • casualcommenter - May 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        The Trailblazers beat the Spurs by 11 in game 4.

        The Nets beat the Heat by 14 in game 3…

      • antistratfordian - May 15, 2014 at 6:51 PM

        The Nets are filled with hall of famers, all-stars & gold medalists with combined playoff experience coming out the yin yang. That team collectively has seen everything that can be seen in the NBA.

        The young Blazers were up by 19 or 20 in the 4th in Game 4.

  2. the1nonlyk - May 15, 2014 at 1:35 AM

    go spurs!

  3. haaaaasoooooo - May 15, 2014 at 3:30 AM

    Tony Parker is going to Miami???

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