Morning Rehash: Spurs axe Celtics for 8th straight win

And just like that, the Spurs put the game away. - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After four days off, the Spurs came out rusty against a young, focused Celtics team. But in the second half, the Spurs hit their stride to secure their tenth victory of the season.

I still think we can play better.

Manu Ginobili

The caveats are there if you're looking for them. A cupcake heavy schedule. Key injuries on opposing teams. Boris Diaw's inexplicable rebirth.

In the early goings of this young season, the Spurs have certainly benefited from some seemingly fluky developments. But with each game and each ho-hum double-digit victory, the Spurs' record becomes harder to ignore.

Make no mistake. A game against the Celtics - against these Celtics - should have never been in doubt, even if this well coached, if somewhat amorphous, Boston squad did find a way to down the Miami Heat. The Spurs had half a week of rest, and the Celtics were on the second night of a back-to-back. The script practically wrote itself.

Everything went as you'd expect. The Spurs came out rusty on both sides of the ball, and they found themselves down 25-22 after the first quarter. The Celtics, still fresh from their game the night before, came out with energy and purpose. They played focused where the Spurs started a step behind. They worked instinctively while the Spurs struggled to shake themselves awake.

By halftime, the Spurs evened up the game, and just a few minutes into the third, it was clear that the game was over. The Celtics played well, as Brad Stevens did his best to push them throughout, but the Spurs simply have too much talent. A Patty Mills steal here. A Danny Green three there. A Tony Parker up-and-under here. A Kawhi steal and dunk there. For now, at least, their offensive cup runneth over.

In a game like this one - where Boris Diaw was dropping "Cream Shakes" (daps to Jesse Blanchard for the nickname) like they were going out of style and Marco Belinelli was hitting off-balance, buzzer-beating, fadeaway shots like Gary Neal never left - it didn't matter that Tim Duncan still hasn't found his shot. (He posted a ghastly 3 of 13 for the night.) The Spurs machine kept chugging along, with nary an ounce of panic in its inevitable, unstoppable march to victory.

It's this kind of cold, inescapable destruction that brought Andrew Lynch to liken the Spurs to a horror movie villain:

It's almost impossible to compliment the Spurs without reaching for adjectives like "methodical" and "machine-like," words that belie the complacency that comes with knowing that no matter what you do, San Antonio will be back for the next sequel, probably better than ever... Shoot them, crush them between a vehicle and a tree, send them careening out an airlock, do whatever you'd do if you were in a horror movie; none of it will matter. The Spurs will not die.

As Lynch describes it, the Spurs will kill your heroes. They'll break your hearts. And they'll do it without pandering for your appreciation or attention.

As great as Lynch's piece was, though, I think it only reinforces an easy Spurs stereotype. While his descriptions are certainly true - the Spurs are indeed ruthless in their basketball asceticism - they're not above expressing emotions in their work, unlike the killers of various horror franchises.

Tim Duncan provided a perfect example tonight. He's supposed to be the most Spurs-ian player ever, and yet there he was, growing angrier by the brick, shooting through a shiner under one of his eyes, stomping to the bench during timeouts, getting a technical for jawing at a referee. He was frustrated, and he let everyone know it.

In horror movies, you don't see that. Freddy Kreuger doesn't stomp his foot when somebody gets away. Michael Meyers doesn't yell at people. Jason doesn't let you see his bruises.

If Tim Duncan is a basketball killer - and he absolutely is - he's scarier than a hollow franchise villain. He's ruthless and human. He's deadly and emotional. It's this combination of cold execution and dynamic attitude that makes him truly scary. He's seen it all. He's always been a destroyer of worlds. But he remains a machine that refuses to settle. And the Spurs adopt his identity as their own. They're the Borg with emotions. A Phalanx with heart. They're an army of quiet monsters easily angered into sharpening their tools and updating their attack strategies.

Losses push them forward. Victories don't satiate their hunger. The Spurs are 10-1, but they're supposed to be. In the face of this expected success, their leader remains angry, so they demand improvement.

That's absolutely terrifying.

Be sure to read Fred Silva's full recap if you haven't already.

STANDARD POP QUOTE OF THE GAME

"It wasn't until the second half when we played with the focus and respect we needed to play with."

GAME MVP

Kawhi

KAWHI LEONARD

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

BLK

STL

+/-

MIN

16

7/14

2

8

1

5

+4

31:45


As much as I want to give this to Boris Diaw, who shot 60% from the field tonight as he continues to blow minds, I've got to give the nod to Kawhi Leonard, who had a great game on both sides of the ball. Though he continues to struggle from behind the three-point line (28% on the season, 20% tonight), he finished with a solid 7/14 from the floor. He absolutely exploded in the third quarter during the Spurs' big run, scoring 12 of his 16 points and causing tons of havoc for the Celtics. He did a great job guarding Jeff Green, and he filled out the box score quite well, adding eight rebounds, five steals, two assists, and a block. It's tough to stand out on a night where six Spurs finished in double figures, but Kawhi did just that with a great line.

GAME LVP

3533-wallace-gerald_large

GERALD WALLACE

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

BLK

TO

+/-

MIN

2

1/3

0

1

0

2

-12

15:08


Gerald Wallace is at the point in his career where "Crash" has given way to "Burn." For such a vocal critic of his own team, Wallace made no effort to take advantage of his playing opportunities this game and was an absolute ghost for his fifteen minutes on the floor. He scored two points on 1/3 shooting, grabbed one rebound, fouled somebody, and turned the ball over twice. That's it. That was his whole night. For such a bad team, the Celtics surprise in that they're not boring to watch, but Crash's game tonight was an affront to the eyes, particularly in comparison to the disciplined Spurs squad that dismantled his team.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 629: Number of games Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili have played together, the second most of any trio in the history of the NBA.
  • +10: Matt Bonner's +/- on his first night back after a calf injury kept him out for a few games. It was pretty great to have the big guy back, even if he was clearly gassed.
  • 56%: Boris Diaw's Field Goal percentage for the season, which would be a career-high mark.
  • 12: Number of jokes about Kelly Olynyk's hair I heard in my section. I don't get it, you guys. Seriously. He clearly conditions, so the joke's on you.
  • 5: Number of threes taken by Jared Sullinger, a career 26% three-point shooter, who inexplicably takes about two a game now. Weird.
  • 0: Minutes played by Keith Bogans, who was out sick for the Celtics. I'm only including this so I can remind you that Pop once called him the "centerpiece" of a Spurs team. This is a thing that actually happened. By that logic, had Bogans played, the Spurs might have lost.

BIRD IS THE WORD

ODDS AND ENDS

  • We need to come up with a list of Diaw nicknames, now that Paunches and Haunches continues to flourish as an offensive threat. Diaw has shot 60% or above in each of his last three games and is averaging nearly nine points a game this year. His shooting numbers will likely dip, but even then, we might still be able to enjoy clips like this for the rest of the season.
  • Diawpost_medium

  • Danny Green was the first Spur out at the half to get in some warm-up shots. He was joined by Aron Baynes, who was working on a ten-foot jumpshot. Yeah, sure. Okay.
  • Manu had an absolutely bonkers pass to Boris Diaw. Yada yada yada physical skills declining blah blah blah basketball IQ as sharp as ever. Whatever, man. Just watch this and try not to smile.
  • Manuhof_medium

  • Jared Sullinger had a great game, finishing with 19 points and 17 rebounds, and was the only Celtics player of consequence to finish with a positive +/- (+5). Duncan had to chase him around for stretches, and I'm sure that defensive activity didn't help him find his legs for jumpers on the other end. Slumpdog Millionaire is still looking for that shot.
  • While Gerald Wallace had an abysmal night, he did, however, do one positive thing. He inspired me to put together a Swagger Imbalance All-Star Team for players whose swagger to skills ratio is hilariously off kilter. Here's my starting five, but feel free to discuss your picks in the comments below or on Twitter. (We'll need a hashtag then, I suppose.)

Point Guard - Brandon Jennings

Shooting Guard - Nick Young (obvs)

Small Forward - Gerald Wallace

Power Forward - Kenyon Martin

Center - Kendrick Perkins

GOING FORWARD, THE SPURS NEED TO...

Get rhythm. The defense looks good, but the offense still needs improving. Tim Duncan feeling confident enough to take his open jumpers instead of forcing a pass will help as the schedule starts to toughen up these next few weeks. Somebody needs to add the Hulk Hogan theme to his iTunes ASAP.

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