By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com
SAN ANTONIO – If anybody came out of sweltering Game 1 better off than he started, it was the guy who couldn’t even be sure of how he’d fare — air-conditioning or not.
“I woke up today, I feel great,” San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. “I’m very happy with the progress. I felt better and better during the game. So I’m very confident, you know, for Game 2 that my ankle will hold up.”
Parker’s left ankle has been a cause of great concern in San Antonio. He sprained it in Game 4 against Oklahoma City in the West finals and eventually had to bow out of the second half of Game 6 last Saturday. Until Game 1 of the Finals, he hadn’t even tested the ankle at full speed.
Parker called the health of his ankle “night and day” compared to that night in Oklahoma City.
“A little bit worried in the first quarter; didn’t know how my ankle would react,” Parker said. “Second half felt a lot better, felt like it was getting stronger. As I got warmed up, I felt confident playing my game and being aggressive.”
In a strange way, while everybody else was being overwhelmed by the suffocating heat in the in the arena, it worked to loosen Parker’s joints and get him going.
Heat guard Mario Chalmers got the full Parker experience. Chalmers picked up three fouls in the first half and was ineffective offensively. Parker scored 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting, plus eight assists while playing a game-high 37 minutes in an arena that had heated up to the upper 80s by the second half.
“I thought he did great, you know, for not being on the court for a while,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “He actually played a little bit longer than I wanted him to play. During the game I was concerned because he didn’t look like he wanted to shoot it, really, and down the stretch he did, he came through and shot it well.”