As good as Tim Duncan is, as timely as Manu Ginobili's scoring has been and as brilliant as Gregg Popovich's coaching continues to be, the team wouldn't have a chance to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder if not for Parker's virtuoso performance throughout the NBA playoffs in 2012.
So far this postseason, Parker's stat line is incredible—especially for a point guard. He's putting in 20.5 points per game, dropping 7.1 assists per game and hauling in 3.8 rebounds per game, according to basketball-reference.com.
The craziest part about all that is that those stats don't even tell the entire story.
CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel said this about Parker's last game: "If this were a hockey game, Parker would have had another 10 or so assists, the kind the NHL gives to the player who made the pass that created the actual assist."
Parker is one of only a few players in the NBA who is capable of running circles around Russell Westbrook and the Thunder defense. He masterfully exploits screens and manages to make even the best athletes in the world look foolish when he runs around them for easy shots.
When he's not putting in easy shots, Parker's ability to penetrate the opposition's paint almost always results in perimeter defenders dropping down in an attempt to help their big men. The problem is that it's a strategy that usually works in favor of the Spurs, as Parker is amazingly adept at finding the open man on the outside.
One of Parker's greatest attributes is that he is still coachable—much like his senior teammate, Tim Duncan. Many players with the kind of experience and success he's accumulated over the course of his NBA career tend to get a big head about themselves. Not Parker.
There hasn't been a game this postseason where he can't be found getting an earful from his head coach about what he's not doing right. Rather than discourage him or cause him to tune out, Parker remains an avid pupil.
One clear example happened during the last game, when Popovich called a timeout after the Thunder went on a 6-0 run in the second half. Parker talked about it in an on-court interview on TNT, via the Washington Post:
He was just screaming at me. He screamed at me for 11 years, it’s not a big deal. We didn’t get into our plays, OKC came back on us, he wanted to make sure I kept pushing the ball and made sure everyone stayed ready.
It's because of his willingness to accept discipline and direction that Parker and the Spurs will continue dominating the Thunder on their way to the NBA Finals, where they are sure to meet up with the Miami Heat.
The Thunder don't have an answer for Parker. It's as simple as that.
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