By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com
OKLAHOMA CITY — Even before Serge Ibaka’s left calf and absence from the middle of the Thunder lineup became the focal point of the Western Conference finals, the Spurs had an injury question of their own.
Point guard Tony Parker, the head of the snake in the Spurs’ offense, had to leave San Antonio’s Game 5 close out victory against Portland early and was diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain.
But after piling up 36 points and 17 rebounds as the Spurs have built a 2-0 lead in the series and then getting a lengthy break in the series, Parker says he’s on the verge of declaring himself back to 100 percent fitness.
“I feel pretty good,” Parker told reporters. “The extra days definitely helped, so hopefully … I can get my full speed back.”
After scoring 22 points and handing out five assists in 28 1/2 minutes of playing time in Game 2 on Wednesday, Parker will have had almost four full days to rest and recuperate for tonight’s tipoff (8:30 ET, TNT)
“I was surprised when I saw the schedule,” Parker said. “I was like man, if I can survive the first two games I’ll be OK for the rest of the series.”
The Spurs with 38-year-old Tim Duncan, 36-year-old Manu Ginobili and the 32-year-old Parker are always monitoring the minutes of their veterans and looking to maximize their time off. If they can take care of business and close out the Thunder quickly, the Spurs could conceivably get themselves more than a week off before the start of the NBA Finals on June 5.
“It’s a great motivation,” Parker said, “so we’ll see what happens.”