Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Parker central to game plans of Spurs, Heat

Because Tony Parker, above, is so crucial to the Spurs offense, he can expect to draw LeBron James as a defender during key stretches.

Associated Press

Because Tony Parker, above, is so crucial to the Spurs offense, he can expect to draw LeBron James as a defender during key stretches.

MIAMI — Even in a year where big man Tim Duncan turned back the clock and posted one of the best seasons in his long career, guard Tony Parker is probably the biggest reason why the Spurs are in the NBA Finals for the fifth time.

And he likely will be the focal point of the Heat defensive game plan tonight in Game 1.

Parker, one of four former Finals MVPs in the series, joining Duncan, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, is averaging 23 points and 7.2 assists in these playoffs. He's coming off a Western Conference final against Memphis in which he shot 26-for-43 and averaged 31.5 points in two road wins.

"Against Miami, it's the last step," Parker said Wednesday. "It's going to be the hardest one, because winning a championship is very hard."

The Heat raves about Parker, so much so that it may offer him the ultimate compliment tonight: Miami may have James guard him at times.

Mario Chalmers will start off against Parker, but if the Heat wants a different look or if its starting point guard gets into foul trouble, Miami won't hesitate to call on James. After all, Miami calls James "One through five" for a reason, a nod to how he can guard all five positions.

"No matter what they do, we just have to live with it and play," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "At this point in the season we're not going to change very much what we do. There's no time for it."

More often than not, how Parker fares in a game is an indicator of whether the Spurs won that night. The Spurs are 42-8 this season when he scores 20. When he plays and doesn't score 20, they're 17-13.

Not forgotten: After the Spurs swept the Cavs in the 2007 Finals, Duncan told the beaten James that the league would someday belong to him. And so it does, as James became the league MVP and guided Miami to last year's title and the league's best record this season.

But James carries the memory of that beating. "I have something in me that they took in '07," he said. "Beat us on our home floor, celebrated on our home floor. I won't forget that. You shouldn't as a competitor."

James shot 36 percent in the series, including 10-for-30 in Game 4, and committed 23 turnovers.

"That was like ancient history," Popovich said. "He was basically a neophyte at the time, wondering how all this stuff worked and how it's put together. We were very fortunate at that time to get him so early. But at this point he's grown."

Around the league: Hawks president Bob Williams, in an effort to head off tampering charges, said a letter to potential ticket buyers promoting Atlanta's chances of signing Chris Paul and Dwight Howard was an "unfortunate" mistake. Howard and Paul are under contract with the Lakers and Clippers, respectively, and can become free agents July 1. … The Grizzlies denied the Nets permission to talk to coach Lionel Hollins, ESPN reported. Hollins is under contract through June 30. However, the Nets have permission to talk to Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, Yahoo Sports reported, but Shaw is considered the top choice of the Clippers.

Parker central to game plans of Spurs, Heat 06/05/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 9:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. Rays journal: Former closer Sergio Romo acquired from Dodgers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made a move to help the bullpen Saturday night when they acquired RHP Sergio Romo, who had been designated for assignment last week by the Dodgers.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (23) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 7, 2017.
  5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. backs wife's "not worth risk'' opinion on Daytona

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday defended his wife's Twitter post — and blamed himself for putting her in a position where she believed she had to speak out and upset some of his fans.

    Amy Earnhardt worries about Dale Jr.’s concussions.