The hits just keep on coming for Tony Parker. No sooner does he get past the Clippers and All-Star point guard Chris Paul than up pops the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook blocking his path.
Never mind three-time NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant. After the Spurs finished a long practice Wednesday ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Parker said the key to keep moving ahead is slowing down Westbrook.
“He’s more aggressive. Chris is more looking to get his teammates involved. Westbrook is going to take a lot of shots. He’s going to be super-aggressive. It’s going to be one of the keys, trying to contain him.
“He’s definitely the head of the snake on this team. He gets them going. Durant is obviously the best scorer in this league, but I think Westbrook is the one who makes them go.”
When the two teams squared off in San Antonio back in February, coach Gregg Popovich insisted that Parker try to get up 30 shots in order to keep the pressure on Westbrook and the Thunder. He finished with a season high 42 points and the Spurs won easily.
“Pop wanted me to be aggressive, told me to be extra aggressive actually that game,” Parker said. “I was in a good rhythm. Shot was feeling good. Manu (Ginobili)was not playing, so I had a lot more plays for me.”
So more of the same to open the series?
“We’ll see, huh?” Parker said. “We’ll see what they do. We’ll see if they trap me like the Clippers. We’ll see on Sunday.
“I’m definitely going to go at (Westbrook). It’s definitely not like Dallas or the Lakers, where their point guards are not aggressive. It’s going to be a little bit different. I’m going to go at him and make sure he works a little bit.
“That’s why you play basketball, for these great challenges. Chris Paul was a great challenge. Now I have another one.”