Tony Parker interview prior to start of Finals
The NBA Playoffs have reached the round that matters: The NBA Finals, featuring the San Antonio Spurs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, begin tonight. Here's what Tony Parker had to say yesterday:
Q. Can you just talk about early in your playoff career, a lot of times you would start off a series strong and then when teams adjusted they kind of took you away from your success. How have you adjusted since then, and what are the differences now and just how do you feel approaching it and finishing out a series?
TONY PARKER: I think the last two years, the playoffs are more consistent because my shot is better. I think I improved a lot on that. It helps to have different weapons. So if they do play good defense and they do a good job of taking me and getting me out of the paint I can still score different ways or be effective and try to get my teammates involved. I think that's a result of me being more consistent and always having great games at the beginning, and I finish pretty good, too, instead of when I was younger, I always had a great start and bad finishes.
Q. Does it bother you guys at all that people are doing this as sort of LeBron's coming-out party, or do you guys feel like you're able to fly under the radar a little bit more?
TONY PARKER: They never talk about us that much anyway. During the whole season they always talk about Phoenix and Dallas. It's okay with us. I think we like to be in that position because it makes us keep working hard and keep improving. It's normal they're going to talk about LeBron. It's his first Finals. People have a tendency to always like new stuff, and it's his first Finals, so I think it's normal. But when the Finals start, we'll see who's the best team. Very happy for Cleveland, they deserve it, so it's going to be an exciting Finals and we'll see what happens.
Q. Can you talk about what Daniel Gibson has meant to them, if you anticipate being matched up with him at points in this series?
TONY PARKER: He played well. He's going to play with a lot of confidence. He had a great Game 6. He got 31 points at that performance, so we have to be ready for him. He hit some big shots, he's fearless, so it's going to be a good challenge for me, and I'll be ready.
Q. Mike Brown, I saw a piece on TV where you were talking about how he came to you and told you you were going to play and you were good friends with him. How much of a factor do you think it will be, Mike knowing you guys, this system, Danny knowing you guys in this system, similar to Don Nelson with Golden State and Dallas?
TONY PARKER: He knows our play book by heart, that's for sure. He was an assistant coach here for a long time. He knows everybody, knows all our players, and so I think it's going to help him. It's going to take a little advantage. But at the same time, I think that series is going to be who's the team that's going to play the hardest with more energy and more intensity because he plays kind of the same defense, I guess. So it's going to play like two San Antonio teams, I want to say. It's funny. They've got their own entity, too, because in offense everything goes through LeBron, instead of like us everything goes through Timmy, so it's going to be interesting to see how they defend us.
Q. With the size of Cleveland's starting backcourt, Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, the length and the strength, even Eric Snow off the bench, do you anticipate that that's going to have to have you tweak some things on the offensive end maybe to counteract that size in terms of what you do?
TONY PARKER: Not really. I think we're going to play the same way. We'll see if they're going to post us up, especially me, with Larry Hughes, if they're going to give him some looks and stuff like that. But I think the key for us is just play our games and we'll make adjustments. If they really hurt us in the backcourt we'll make adjustments, but we're just going to play like we did the whole playoffs.
Q. LeBron James defensively, teams have tried almost anything and everything. Do you guys have anything that he hasn't seen defensively that you might throw at him?
TONY PARKER: No, we've got nothing special. LeBron is a great player, obviously. I don't think you can stop him. I think you can contain him and it's going to take the whole team, a whole team effort to try to slow him down. But I think the key is to stop the other players, not really put all the focus on him, and that's the philosophy we have here in San Antonio. We can let the guy score 40 like he did against Phoenix. Stoudemire scored 40 against us, and it was okay as long as we stopped the other guys. I think with LeBron he's still going to score 20 or 25, we have to stop the other guys. We can't let Larry Hughes or Gibson or Ilgauskas score 30 points like Gibson did against Detroit in Game 6 because that's when you're in trouble.
Q. I think in your two regular season games with them, you shot 40 percent from the field as a team and averaged just under 80 points. Can you talk about what they were doing defensively and what you weren't doing offensively in those games and how that has to change?
TONY PARKER: I think we have to give them respect on defense. They have a pretty good defense. The two regular season games they played good defense against us. They was packing the paint, everybody was helping, and it was hard to penetrate. It's going to be a little bit like Utah, the key for us is like ball movement, make sure we share the ball, make sure we take good shots, and I think we'll be okay. Regular season, it's nothing like the playoffs, but I think we can still learn from those two games.
Q. LeBron is very flashy, he draws a lot of attention. Can you talk about him versus Tim Duncan, who is just sort of quietly consistent for you guys?
TONY PARKER: Well, it's a different style. Two different super stars, but at the same time, two very effective players. And so it's going to be a very good match-up. Besides that, when the LeBron makes The Finals, I think it's going to be better for the TV ratings. I think even if people think we're boring, we're still going to play good basketball and effective basketball.