No Tony Parker, no problem.
The San Antonio Spurs floor general left Wednesday night's Game 5 with an injured left hamstring after 10 ineffective minutes, but it didn't matter—they still rolled to a 104-82 victory to eliminate the Portland Trail Blazers and advance to the Western conference finals.
Kawhi Leonard (22 points, seven rebounds, two assists, five steals) was magnificent on both ends of the court. Tim Duncan (16 points, eight rebounds) was quietly effective as always, and Danny Green (22 points) hit four three-pointers to break out of a shooting slump.
The win entrenches San Antonio in the record books, as WOAI's Don Harris noted:
ESPN Stats & Info added a couple more insane notes:
Fortunately, as the San Antonio News Express-News' Buck Harvey reported, Parker's injury doesn't sound serious going forward:
Patty Mills—as he has done all season—made sure the Spurs didn't skip a beat without their electric point guard, finishing with 18 points and three steals in 26 minutes off the bench.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the way for Portland with 21 points, but the Blazers, who shot just 26.3 percent from beyond the arc, turned the ball over 18 times and got eight points off the bench, finally ran out of gas.
Popovich was relieved to be clear of the talented squad, via Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver:
The elimination hardly takes away from an electrifying and much-improved season for Portland, and CBS Sports' Matt Moore offered high praise for Terry Stotts' team:
After a 19-19 first quarter, the Spurs showed off their superior depth, as Mills, Boris Diaw, Manu Ginobili and the second unit helped push San Antonio to a 47-32 lead with 3:45 remaining in the half.
The Portland Tribune's Kerry Eggers put it simply:
Of course, as the San Antonio Express-News' Jeff McDonald noted, Leonard, who had 13 points and two steals in the first half, had a little bit to do with the run, as well:
Portland wouldn't fold, though. Behind six quick points from Aldridge and Wesley Matthews' first three-pointer of the game, the Blazers ended the half on a 12-4 run to whittle the spread to seven at intermission.
While Aldridge and Batum led the way with 24 combined points, ESPN Stats & Info pointed out Damian Lillard's immense impact:
The Spurs came out firing in the third quarter, however. Starting the half in place of Parker, Mills sparked an 8-0 run with his energy, and Leonard put the exclamation mark to extend the lead back to 15:
Portland stuck around, but as Leonard continued to dunk the ball like most dunk a tennis ball on a Nerf hoop, and Mills continued to provide a major offensive impact, San Antonio led 77-63 heading into the final period.
ESPN Stats & Info noted a major discrepancy in one area of the game:
The fourth quarter was nothing but a formality, as the Spurs did whatever they wanted on the offensive side of the ball to turn the game into a rout and sadden Uncle Cliffy:
It's fishing—or golfing, or sleeping on the couch—time for the Blazers, but the future is still blindingly bright. The starting lineup will remain among the best in the league next season, and if Neil Olshey improves depth through the draft and free agency this summer, Rip City will only climb the extremely difficult West ladder.
Terry Stotts certainly thinks his team is headed in the right direction, per Blazersedge.com's Ben Golliver:
For San Antonio, on the other hand, the future is now.
It's going to be a war next round, but if Parker uses the extra days off to get healthy and the Spurs play like they did this series, they are a strong bet to return to the NBA Finals—no matter who they play.