The Spurs finished a 4-0 rout of the Grizzlies in the best-of-seven Western Conference final and reached the NBA finals for the first time since 2007, when they swept LeBron James-led Cleveland for their fourth title in nine seasons.
“It seems like forever since we have been there,” said Spurs star big man Tim Duncan. “We have been driven and we’re glad to get back there.”
French guard Parker, briefly knocked out of the game by a slap to the face, made 15-of-21 shots from the field and had six assists and four rebounds in powering the Spurs to their sixth playoff triumph in a row.
“I’m glad we’re done with them. They are very physical,” Parker said. “Now we have a week off. That will be nice.”
The Spurs, who have never lost in the NBA Finals, will face the Eastern Conference winner, either James and the defending champion Miami Heat or the Indiana Pacers, in the best-of-seven championship series starting on June 6.
San Antonio, which would have a home-court edge over Indiana but not Miami, won the NBA crown for the first time in 1999 over New York and also took the title in 2003 over New Jersey, and 2005 and 2007 over Detroit.
Coach Gregg Popovich and Duncan, a three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, have been on every Spurs team to reach the championship series.
But this time, it might just be 2007 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Parker who holds the key to San Antonio’s title dreams.
“He has been amazing,” Duncan said. “We have been riding his coattails. He has been carrying us. You see it tonight. He just takes over.”
Popovich ranked the performance among the best he has seen from Parker.
“He has had a lot of very good games. This one has to rank right up there,” Popovich said. “He has been fantastic. People just look at his scoring. He has played defense too.”
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins agreed that Parker was the dominant force in the series despite a Spurs’ defense that kept the Grizzlies shooting only 37.2 percent from the field.
“He was outstanding,” Hollins said of Parker. “He controlled the whole series. He was huge. They earned the win.”