And it couldn’t come at a better time.
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard each scored 22 points, and San Antonio overcame an injury to Tony Parker to close out the Western Conference semifinals with a 104-82 victory over Portland in Game 5 on Wednesday night.
“We really needed this win for multiple reasons,” said Manu Ginobili, who handled much of the ball-handling duties in Parker’s absence. “First, because we didn’t want to get on the plane tomorrow. It’s tough to play every other day so far against a younger team after a four-hour flight. Then, every time you have an opportunity to close a series, especially at home, you want to take it. Then we saw Tony go down, so now we have a little break to get him back.”
After playing with various injuries throughout last postseason, the Spurs had been healthy in these playoffs until Wednesday.
After returning to the court with 9:46 remaining in the second quarter following his normal rest, Parker left the game exactly a minute later. He headed back to the locker room followed closely by San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford and team physician, Dr. Paul Saenz.
Parker will undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury.
It’s the third straight conference finals appearance for San Antonio, which lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals.
San Antonio awaits the winner of the series between Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Thunder have a 3-2 lead.
“Whoever’s the best team, I want to play them,” Leonard said. “It’s gonna prepare us for the (NBA) finals.”
The ball movement, energetic defense and potent bench scoring that led San Antonio to the league’s best record was virtually absent against Dallas. It returned to overwhelm Portland, which had upset the Houston Rockets in the opening round.
“After a tough series with Dallas, they came out and played extremely well this series,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “It is a compliment to all the years that they have been here and the program that they have developed. They certainly outplayed us in this series.”