Parker is San Antonio's Catalyst, but Spurs has to get better
After Tony Parker led the San Antonio Spurs with 28 points and eight assists in a 106-91 Game 1 victory of the Utah Jazz, coach Tyrone Corbin must be thinking of another way to slow down San Antonio's starting point guard.
Devin Harris has something in mind. “Maybe give him a hard foul or two,” Harris told reporters in Utah on Monday. Harris actually already tried that approach early in Game 1, apparently hitting Parker inadvertedly.
However, Parker went on and let his game do the talking. Without a doubt, this season is definitely Parker's best, he is San Antonio's catalyst.
"He does a great job of getting into the paint," Harris said. "They run great stuff for him. We have to try to make him play a little more defense, limit his transition opportunities."
Parker has become the proverbial "head of the snake" for the Spurs. Teams must contain him in order to have a chance to win, especially four times in six games.
"I tell him before every game, 'We go as far as you go. If you bring that energy and that tempo, we’re going to be alright,' " Stephen Jackson said. "Tim Duncan has been the captain of our team, but Tony’s been leading us this year."
One solution the Jazz might consider is using small forward Gordon Hayward to defend Parker in spurts. Hayward is 6-foot-9 and had some success against Kobe Bryant in a game earlier this month, and bigger, longer defenders have proven problematic for Parker in the past.
Parker’s teammates, however, suggest whatever adjustments the Jazz make against him are moot.
"He’s seen just about everything," Duncan said. "If they decide to put a couple of guys on him, it doesn't change our game in any way. We're going to attack everybody the exact same way. Tony is a smart enough player and has been playing long enough that he'll figure out how to attack them."
Clearly, the Spurs put a lot of faith in Parker, but they know too that help should be always there night in and night out.
In Game 1, San Antonio had some trouble pulling away from the pesky Jazz.
Even with Parker playing great, had the Spurs not made their 3-pointers in a closing third quarter run, the game could be much closer.
Outside of Parker, Duncan and Jackson are the only Spurs to reach double figures in Sunday's win.
The Spurs might be right about Parker, but they are a team built to play with a balanced effort.
If they want to put away the Jazz early, Parker must continue doing his thing, but the Spurs have to do better on both ends of the floor and make sure they hold serve before heading to Utah.
(Photo via NBA.com)