The San Antonio Spurs await their next opponent (the Clippers lead the Grizzlies 3-2 and play again Friday night). Regardless of the outcome of that series, Tony Parker will be matched up with a tougher match up than in round one. Mike Conley's speed and pesky defense neutralized Parker for the half of San Antonio's first round series against the Grizzlies last April. Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league, arguably the league's most clutch performer and someone who won the individual battle with Parker in 2008 when the Spurs and Hornets played an epic seven game Western Conference Semi-finals series (though Parker and the Spurs won what mattered, the series). Either way, for the Spurs to win the next round of the playoffs, Parker will need to exercise a personal demon from playoff's past.
Fortunately, Parker is a better player this season then he was last season or in 2008. Not only is he a better player, but he's also turned himself in to a leader. Recently, Ric Bucher wrote a piece for ESPN The Magazine outlining how Parker's run with Team France last season contributed to Parker becoming more of a leader, but according to Parker, he's been ready to lead for a little while now.
"With the national team, it's always been my team," Parker says. "I just tried to fit in here. Pop told me, 'This year, you need to lead, and Timmy and Manu will follow.' Only Pop could say that. I felt it was time too, but to me, it's always been Timmy's team."
It's still Tim Duncan's team. He's the anchor, especially on defense, but Parker has the keys to the offense and he's got the Spurs zipping through this bizarre, chaotic NBA season. But next round will bring Parker's biggest test yet. He can't disappear for two or three games and he can't settle. The good news is he's owned Conley this season and above every other Spur seems to have taken what happened last year personal. If the Grizzlies are able to come back against the Clippers, I think Parker will go in to full on revenge mode against Conley, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo and whoever else tries to guard him.
Paul is a different beast all together. For starters, there's no animosity and no revenge in mind for TP. The one time they met in the playoffs the Spurs knocked the Hornets out on their home court. If anything Paul will be the one looking for payback, which will make a Spurs-Clippers series even more fun and competitive. He's as smart as he is talented and no one guy should get discouraged when they can't stop him. Watching Parker and Paul go at each other for the next couple of weeks will be epic because of Paul's all around brilliance and Parker's maturing game, which produced his best season of his career. It will mean Parker will have to summon his inner Paul, looking for several different ways to get his teammates involved on offense(something he's done brilliantly all season long).
This is still Duncan's team. It will be Duncan's team until he retires because of his iconic status. However, the next few weeks could very well determine Parker's legacy with the Spurs. In 2003, 2005 and 2007 Parker didn't have to be at his best for the Spurs to win titles. They could ride Duncan's dominance or turn to Manu Ginobili to you know, be Manu Ginobili. Duncan can still dominate and Manu can still be Manu, but it's Parker's time to put a team on his back. He's done it all season long and thanks to a summer where he was the guy for Team France and some encouragement from Coach Pop, Tony Parker may be ready to take the leap and become a post season juggernaut. We'll know in a couple of weeks if that's his destiny.
why do they say it was Manu's team at one time? It never has. He's always been behind Tim and Tony especially since he's always been a sixth man. As for Tony I hope he can continue to keep it up . He's been amazing. I just only hope Manu wakes up eventually during the playoffs. I don't know if it's because the starters already get a huge lead so he feels he doesn't have to do much but he's been sleepwalking through the playoffs lately and really hasn't been trying too much.
I guess you didn't watch the spurs play last season or the 2005 finals when manu flat out took over 4th quarters or the 2008 season when he had multiple 40 point games, but up until this season it's been manu's team for the last couple of years. And ginobili did step up this last game, but you probably didn't see that either.
It was Manu's team last year. He was incredible last year and I would argue there's maybe been one or two other seasons since Tony & Manu came to the Spurs that TP has been better than Manu, but that's just my opinon.
@kmgospurs He can still make the offense flow with his passes when he's not scoring. Manu just meshed into the system. I don't see him dominating like last year. He's another complimentary role piece.
First off, The Grizzlies looked very impressive last night so we still can't count them out.
Regarding your statement below.
Chris Paul was someone who won the individual battle with Parker in 2008 when the Spurs and Hornets played an epic seven game Western Conference Semi-finals series.
I think blatantly saying Chris Paul won the individual battle is giving CP3 credit he doesn't deserve. You can just as easily say Tony won the battle.
I took a look at the stats (listed below) from that series and nearly all categories are a draw with CP3 ahead by 2 points 4 assists but Tony had 1 less turn over and played 3 less minutes. Add three more minutes to Tonys game and their stats are about equal. Both players also shot around 50%. Plus not to mention the spurs WON!! This should give Tony some bonus points for winning and based on NBA standards this means Tony was the dominant point guard. Regardless of how you look at it, CP3 doesn't deserve the title of the better point guard in the match up based on the 2007-08 series.
CP3 averaged 36.5 minutes, 22 points, 53% fgp, 9.8 ast, 2.5 rbs, 1.75 steals and 2.3 TO
On the other hand
TP8 averaged 33 minutes, 19.5 points, 51% fgp, 5.5 ast, 2.8 rbs, .75 steals, and 1.5 TO, Plus his team won.
The teamwork and unity of the spurs is amazing and one can't point out an outstanding player. They help each other, they rebound together beautifully. But indeed, TP has matured. Bring in whoever wins the grizzlies-clipper tussle. Go Spurs!
@rtesoro440 no, parker has been outstanding this year. When tony has excelled, so do the spurs. They can win some games without him, but the spurs will be more lost if anything happens to tony than anyone else.
Don't take Timmy for granted, he is one of the top ten greatest players of all time and is still ON THE COURT. We don't win a championship without him and will find it very difficult (unless we get lucky) to continue our dominance in the NBA once he retires.
@russman138 @rtesoro440 Oh, I by no means take Tim for granted. But I think its fair to say that the spurs success this season rests more with parker than Duncan. I will defend duncans place in NBA history till I die, just as I will the admiral even though he is often overlooked. I do however think we would get farther with parker than Duncan if an injuries were to happen... We probably can't win the title without either.