Spurs Headed to NBA Finals with Sweep of Grizzlies
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since they won their last championship back in 2007, and this trip feels even more special for a team counted out as too old to contend anymore.
Tony Parker scored 37 points in his best game this postseason, and the San Antonio Spurs finished off a sweep Monday night of the Memphis Grizzlies with a 93-86 win on Monday night in the Western Conference final.
"It's a great feeling," Parker said as he sat with the Western Conference trophy perched in front of him.
"Since last year, I promised Tim (Duncan) we would go back to the Finals and get an opportunity to win the whole thing and trying to do my best to be aggressive every night. I think everybody on the team, we really want to do it for him. We win the West and now one more step. It's the hardest one."
The Spurs now have won six straight in these playoffs, handing two straight losses to a team that had been undefeated on their own court in their best postseason in franchise history. Memphis finished off its best season ever swept by the very same franchise that needed four games to knock them out of their first playoff appearance back in 2004.
Parker had his best game this postseason as he hit 15 of 21 and all six at the free throw line earning the Spurs and Duncan plenty of rest before Game 1 of the Finals on June 6.
"He's been amazing," Duncan said of Parker. "Every year he gets better and better and better. He's been carrying us. You can see tonight he carried us the entire game."
Duncan hugged Manu Ginobili before heading off the court, celebrating the chance at a title that slipped away a year ago when the Spurs blew a 2-0 lead to Oklahoma City losing four straight. The 37-year-old Duncan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Kawhi Leonard added 11.
"We want to get back there," Duncan said of making the finals. "We've had some really close years where we fell right on the verge of getting back. It feels like forever since we've been there."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the fact they are back in the finals after a six-year drought likely won't really sink in for a bit, though he already felt pretty good.
"You don't expect that to happen maybe this late in the game with the same group," Popovich said. "It's tough to do with the same group. It's tough to do, to maintain something that long. It just shows the character of those three guys and the ability to play with whoever else is brought in around them. They deserve a lot of credit for that."
Memphis stayed close only by getting to the free throw line, making more shots there (17 of 24) than San Antonio took (12 of 13). The Grizzlies also got a career-high 22 points from reserve Quincy Pondexter, 18 of those in the second half. Pondexter was the only player from Memphis to shoot over .500. Zach Randolph finished with 13, continuing his struggles at the line where he was 5 of 8, and Marc Gasol had 14.
"We learned that winning isn't easy and winning championships is one of the hardest things you can possibly do," Pondexter said. "I think our guys really dug deep to get as far as we did, and San Antonio's a tremendous team. We're going to take a couple pages out of their book."
Notes: Parker's previous best this postseason came in Game 3 when he had 32 points against Golden State in the semifinals. ... Teams are now 108-0 when leading a series 3-0. ... The Grizzlies had owner Robert Pera in the stands for only the second home game this season. ... The Spurs missed their first eight 3-pointers before Green finally hit in the third quarter.
Courtesy of (AP)