Tony Parker, frequently lauded as the league’s most forgotten superstar, scored 37 points in the clinching game, which the Spurs won 93-86. Nobody believes he’s a star, but game-after-game, year-after-year, these Spurs are still riding him into the final days of May.
SH Blog: Parker Keeps Promise To Duncan, Oladipo Soars Up Draft Boards, Celtics Likely To Buy Pierce Out?
The four-time NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs made a statement in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals with a 104-93 victory in Memphis.
That statement might as well have been one of those old clichés like “never underestimate the heart of a champion.”
Spurs—new and old—expressed their enthusiasm on Twitter after the game.
The evolution of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise since its infant days in Vancouver is really something to marvel at when you consider where they are as of today.
They are currently on their 7th head coach in their franchise’s history with Lionel Hollins and are out of the first round for just the second time in their 18-year history. If you parlay that with the fact that Memphis traded their top scorer, Rudy Gay, at the end of January for Ed Davis, who has played 3 total minutes in the past six games, Austin Daye, who has played 11 total minutes in the entire playoffs and an aging 33-year old Tayshaun Prince, who is the best current piece of the deal, you have to be impressed with their run.
Just two years ago, the eighth-seeded Grizzlies stunned the top-seeded Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, sending San Antonio back to its rocking chairs a little bit earlier than anyone expected.
Memphis used a breakout performance by Zach Randolph (31 points, 11 boards in Game 6) to close out the Spurs, then took the Thunder to seven games before bowing out in the West semifinals.
Back then, analysts like Stephen A. Smith used unnecessary big words to postulate that we were seeing the end of the great San Antonio dynasty. How erroneous those assertions were.
Remember how Tim Duncan turned back the clock in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals and served a facial dunk on Serge Ibaka?
Well, Ibaka decided a little payback was in order, and did more or less the same dunk against Duncan in Game 4, with a little more flair as he cuffed the ball before throwing it down:
(via youtube user 1jzo)
The shot-blocking artist was more than just a defender in this game, shooting a flawless 11-of-11 from the field to score a playoff career-high 26 points while hitting all four of his free throw attempts. To understand how good that performance was, Ibaka was one shot away from tying the NBA record for most shots made without a miss in the playoffs. He repeatedly hit the wide-open mid-range jump shot, which allowed him to use a quick fake on Duncan to set up his impressive dunk.
Ibaka probably should have gone to the podium after the game, but stayed in the locker room and was understandably bombarded by cameras and reporters. Asked about his surprising offensive explosion, he responded with this:
It was probably a bit of a surprise for the San Antonio Spurs, too.
For Saturday’s blog, click here.
For Kevin Garnett’s knuckle push-ups, click here.
James Park is a regular contributor and blogger for SheridanHoops.com. You can follow him on twitter @nbatupark.