Tony Parker has been in the league for a significant number of years now. Since donning the silver and gray number 9 jersey on, the tenacious French point guard has had his share of memorable battles, with the playoffs being among them.
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Now at 34 years old, Parker slightly took a step backwards in his game and it was evident for the past seasons. He settled for mediocre averages, just enough to contribute to San Antonio’s winning tradition.
The Spurs today is now Kawhi Leonard’s. No more Tim Duncan, and along with Manu Ginobili, Parker willingly filled in the back seat to offer the steering wheel to the new face of the franchise.
Oddly enough, the Spurs all season long relied heavily on Leonard’s isolation plays, when they had been known for an astounding team orientation on the court for years.
But, Gregg Popovich knows his basketball. And with multiple titles having won together, Parker has nothing but trust to the coach.
Game 6 in Memphis, and the Spurs are up 3-2. Leonard was his usual self: a dominant two-way player whose force does not manifest to his on-court reactions, perhaps off the court too. He uncorked 29 points to lead the scoring once again for San Antonio.
With their backs against the wall, the Grizzlies needed to launch a desperation to at least stop Leonard from running over them and eventually sending them to the exits.
If there are players who are aware of this types of tendencies in a playoff series, those are the veterans. And for this particular game, it was Parker who rose to the occasion.
A series clinching game and on the road. The pressure must be at a rather peak at least for inexperienced guys. The Spurs needed a closer and Parker delivered when it counts, hitting clutch baskets after clutch baskets to oust the Grizz and set his team to a second round date with the Houston Rockets.
He finished with 27 points on an efficient 11-of-14 shooting, just another proof that the ageless ones still matter, especially in a playoff series and a game on the line.