Tony Parker not the NBA’s best point guard, but a darn good one in the NBA Finals

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When Tony Parker won NBA Finals MVP in 2007, it caught many off guard.

Tim Duncan won Finals MVP for the Spurs’ first three titles, and he was still an All-NBA first-team player during the 2006-07 regular season. A major of ESPN writers surveyed before Game 4 of San Antonio’s sweep over the Cavaliers chose Duncan as series MVP, though there was a definite “My eyes say Parker, but my heart says Duncan” vibe to their answers. Even Parker said, “This is Timmy’s team, and it’s always been Timmy’s team.”

But Parker won the award, and it legitimized him as one of the NBA’s top players. He’s climbed in regular-season MVP voting since, placing sixth this year and fifth last year.

And now that he’s dominating another postseason, Parker’s support has come full circle with some going as far as describing him as the best point guard in the NBA.

Parker is not the best point guard in the NBA. That’s Chris Paul. Parker belongs in a class with Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Stephen Curry. This is a golden age for NBA point guards, and Parker is certainly a reason, but he’s not the reason.

But Parker is a special postseason player, and in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he again showed why some people are fooled into believing he’s the best point guard in basketball. Parker had 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting with six assists in the Spurs’ 92-88 win over the Heat.

This game alone won’t win him his second Finals MVP – though it puts him in the discussion right after Duncan and LeBron – but it’s definitely another in a long line of excellent playoff performances, a run that really kicked into high gear in 2007. From that postseason on, nobody else has averaged 21 points on 48 percent shooting with six assists in the playoffs besides Parker.

In addition to his prolonged steadiness, Parker now has a jaw-dropping, game-clinching shot to put on his playoff resume. This is just his time of year, and not losing his dribble, falling to his knees, being defended by LeBron or the shot clock running down is going stop him.

Because he plays with Duncan and is coached by Gregg Popovich, Parker gets postseason opportunities other point guards do not. But to Parker’s credit, he takes advantage of them.

And if the Heat don’t make moves to stop him – maybe having LeBron guard him more – he’ll keep taking advantage of the Heat.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.