SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Parker's strained right hamstring is progressing well, but the All-Star Spurs guard said Saturday that playing through the pain bears a risk of re-injury that would see him sidelined if the stakes weren't so high.
"My hamstring can tear any time now," Parker said, one day before Game 5 of the Finals against the Heat tips off on Sunday night. "If it was the regular season, I would be resting like 10 days. But now it's the NBA Finals. If it gets a tear, it's life."
So far, Parker is tear-free, and there haven't been any setbacks during the two days off between Game 4 on Thursday and Game 5. Parker was able to shoot jumpers with his teammates during a portion of Saturday's practice that was open to the media.
"It feels good, it feels good," Parker said of his hamstring. "I feel like I'm getting stronger with it. My goal is to be close to 100 percent by [Sunday]."
The injury, sustained during San Antonio’s Game 3 victory, required an MRI on Wednesday. The test revealed that Parker had suffered a Grade-1 strain, the lowest level of injury, and that he hadn’t suffered any additional damage. Parker sat out practice on Wednesday and told reporters he wasn’t sure whether he was going to play in Game 4 on Thursday, and he was officially listed as day-to-day. After shootaround on Thursday morning, Parker committed to playing in Game 4.
In a 109-93 loss to the Heat in Game 4, Parker finished with 15 points (on 7-for-16 shooting), nine assists and four rebounds in 32 minutes, but he went scoreless in the second half as Miami pulled away. After the game, Parker acknowledged that the injury had limited him, particularly in the second half.
“It was kind of weak,” Parker said on Thursday. “I didn’t know what to expect. The first three or four minutes I was testing it and the first half, it felt OK. The second half, I think I got fatigued a little bit. Overall, I’m just happy I didn’t make it worse. That was the goal, to try to not get hurt.”
The Spurs and Heat are tied at two games apiece as they enter Game 5, which will be played at San Antonio's AT&T Center. The series will then shift to Miami's American Airlines Arena for Game 6 on Tuesday and, if necessary, Game 7 on Thursday.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has maintained since Thursday that Parker will be ready and available.
"He's fine," Popovich said Saturday, without elaborating. Parker, 31, led the Spurs in both points and assists this season. He is averaging 20.9 points and 7.2 assists during the 2013 playoffs.