Among early week news around the league, New York Knicks’ president Phil Jackson was fined $25,000 by the NBA for tampering and news came down that start San Antonio Spurs’ point guard Tony Parker would likely be able to start Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday.
Jackson was fined due to his comments regarding Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher‘s candidacy as the next coach of the Knicks. Fisher was still an active player for the Thunder when Jackson made the comments, and he still appears to be a leading candidate for the position despite playing in the NBA this year and therefore obviously having not had any previous coaching experience.
The San Antonio Express-News and ESPN.com are both quoting sources that claim that Parker, who left Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals in Oklahoma City with an ankle injury, will likely start in Game 1 of the Finals this Thursday night. Parker had been hobbled by the sore ankle for much of the series, and the team managed to keep the injury out of the limelight until recently.
Obviously, Parker is a player vital to San Antonio’s success against the Miami Heat, if not the most important. Given the fact that the Heat are relatively weak at the point guard position, a strong series from Parker will spell trouble for LeBron James and Co.
On the other hand, it’s anyone’s guess how Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich will choose to write out his starting lineup for Game 1. Matt Bonner started Games 5 and 6 against the Thunder with overwhelmingly successful results. (At least the outcomes were positive for the Spurs; Bonner only ended up playing limited minutes in each game.)
The match-up against the Heat and their thin front line, Popovich may try starting Tiago Splitter, who has seen his minutes cut dramatically as the playoffs have wore on. He would certainly create some match-up problems for Erik Spoelstra’s group, and could force Miami’s hand regarding some of their lineup decisions.
The chess match between two of the best three or four coaches in the league will be fascinating to monitor, and it will all start with Thursday night’s starting lineups.