As an unabashed Washington Redskins fan, I know the stigma of rooting for a losing team. It sucks, but eventually you succumb. You rationalize. You gain sanity (that's saying something considering the minute amount that I actually have). You begin to enjoy the little things and latch onto any semblance of hope.
Spurs fans have been incredibly spoiled in this regard. We vividly remember the days when we absolutely expected Timmy to carry the team, when we expected exceptional defense every night, when we expected a championship every year (Damn you Derek Fisher and Dirk Nowitzki). We expected this because defense is consistent. Defense never slumps, it endures. With Timmy and a solid supporting cast anything was attainable. Anything.
Now? Not so much. Now I expect the unexpected. As the Spurs transition into a free-wheeling explosive offensive team, we have come to witness inconsistency at it's finest. You can't bank on Bruce Bowen making the opposing teams premier scorer miserable. You can't bank on TD to post 20-10's every night. Admittedly, it was a little unnerving to see the Spurs suddenly post the second best offensive rating (per Basketball Reference). Their defense, while strong enough to rank 11th in defensive rating, never felt quite the same. The Spurs were a mediocre defensive team and I didn't know what to do with myself. Should I embrace the new, young exciting Spurs or lament their fading defense? What the hell was going on here?
Although the Spurs are already a full year in their attempt to win with TD's declining skills, it's definitely not reassuring that we're No. 27 in defensive eFG% and No. 19 in defensive rating. It's alarming, really, and no championship caliber team can sport a defense so mediocre if they really want to contend. Somewhere, Steve Nash is raising his hand solemnly.
Yet, in this insane condensed NBA season, I'm finding myself more excited about my Spurs than ever before. I have no idea how Tiago Splitter, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph will perform from here. Over time, I've learned to accept these Spurs and their (hopefully not fatal) flaws. We can't defend as well as Pop would like (although I like what I see from Splitter, Green, Kawhi and Cory), we can't compete with any semi-reliable frontcourt and TD is not the same. The Spurs are not the same.
And that's OK. I've learned that inconsistency is fine. It's better than being consistently awful, right? We can still enjoy this season (we do have basketball to watch), warts and all.
That being said ... I can't guarantee that I won't be the first Spurs fan to yell at Matt Bonner for a missed defensive rotation.