After the Clippers eliminated the San Antonio Spurs in a hard-fought seven-game first round playoff series last season, Tony Parker said wasn’t rooting against the Clippers. In fact, he was hoping they’d go far.
The Clippers, however, went on to blow a 3-1 series advantage over the Houston Rockets in the second round, becoming the ninth team in history to be eliminated from the playoffs after having that type of advantage.
“I first of all felt bad for Chris because he’s a friend, and I felt bad for him because he didn’t reach a Conference Finals yet and he’s like 31,” Parker said of Paul, who is actually 30 years old, after the Spurs practiced Thursday. “He’s getting close to the end of his career, so I felt very bad for him.”
Parker said he was stunned by the Clippers’ collapse.
“It was unbelievable to be honest with you,” Parker said. “I don’t know what happened. The Clippers, they had it. But sometimes that’s the beauty of the NBA, it can go fast.”
Parker knows that first hand. The Spurs, after all, blew a 3-2 advantage over the Clippers in their first-round series, losing Game 7 in the final second after Paul banked in the game-winning jumper.
“I thought they played great last year, you have to give them credit,” Parker said. “We messed up, we were up 3-2 but we couldn’t finish it. I think right now for us, it’s better to focus on this year, it’s a new season, and if we play them in the playoffs, hopefully we’ll be able to finish them.”
The day before the Spurs (22-5) host the Clippers (16-10) at AT&T Center, Parker took some time to reflect on the teams’ exciting first-round series, in which four of the seven games came down to the final minutes.
“It was a great series,” Parker said. “It felt like the Conference Finals. It’s not really a first round when you play the Clippers. It gives us a lot of motivation this year to make sure we win more games and we don’t get in the same situation as last year. We lost everything in that last [regular season] game against New Orleans, and we went from second place to sixth, so I think this year we’ll have a different approach.”