Morning Rehash: The Spurs are the NBA's superhero movie

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

As people have experienced the beauty of the Spurs' brand of basketball, the "boring" tag has faded. But the reality is the Spurs are boring, just not in the way you might think.

The hardest part about making a superhero movie is convincing your audience that the hero is actually in peril. Nobody walked into The Amazing Spider-Man or Man of Steel seriously thinking that the heroes' lives were in jeopardy. So the hard part as a filmmaker becomes introducing drama where there really isn't much to work with. The easy part is making the periphery dramatic. What's going to happen to the hero's love interest? How about his relatives? What about the city the hero is protecting? (Well, superhero movies don't consider all of these questions. Man of Steel ignored the last one completely in an astonishing orgy of destruction.)

As moviegoers, we buy into the drama because the aesthetics are so impressive. The fight scenes are incredible spectacles, the science fiction worlds are massive in scope, and the transformation of comic panel to movie frame is often a pleasure to behold. But it's this lack of drama that makes most superhero movies, particularly franchise starters, so boring. There's nothing a superhero movie can do about our biggest expectation: the hero will survive and win.

But you know what? That's fine. Superhero movies are a different kind of experience. They're meant to make you jump and open your eyes. They're not always supposed to make you cry or make you consider your place in the world. In this way, understanding - and ignoring - the boredom of expectations becomes a liberating experience. You embrace what you expect, and you enjoy the ride.

For fifteen seasons, the Spurs have played basketball like a band of Supermen. They've racked up 50-win seasons like they were scout badges, and along the way, they've created an expectation that is both incredible and baffling. Teams just don't do this. They don't get to use the same legendary players for a decade and a half. They don't get to employ the same coach for nearly two decades. And they certainly don't get to do both of those while remaining competitive in an ever-changing league.

At this point, we've developed an expectation that the Spurs will play and will win most of the time. From a fan perspective, that's boring. The outcome of the regular season has been given to us before the opening credits. But we remain drawn in to the aesthetics of an exceptional franchise. We marvel at close games midway in a long season, amazed at the brilliant execution of a clever play or the clutch shooting of a confident player. We laugh at the antics on a bench of players struggling to stay focused, as each of them are just as aware of the ending as we are.

Sunday night, the Spurs entered a game against the Jazz, the worst team in the Western Conference, with a win probability that would qualify for the Dean's list. Like the game against the Lakers, there was no drama regarding how this one would end. Sure, there are occasional surprises - the Sixers did beat the Heat earlier in the season -  but the Spurs were always going to win this. And even if they didn't, they were going to finish the season with 50 wins and a high playoff seed regardless.

This isn't to dismiss the Jazz, who competed well, or even to compare them to the Lakers team of MyPlayers that rolled into San Antonio on Friday. The Jazz scrapped through a game that was close early, bodying up the Spurs and making them uncomfortable with a mix of physical play and aggressive countering. Derrick Favors -- as has always been the case when playing the Spurs -- was a terror, racking up 10 boards and 28 points on nineteen shots. The Jazz did not roll over.

But when crunch time hit, the game became what we expected it to be, even if the aesthetics were surprising. Tiago Splitter took over for a few minutes. Manu Ginobili went off. Marco Belinelli dunked. (Okay, that last one was really surprising.)

The Spurs won. Another 50-win season was in the books. There was no confetti falling from the ceiling. There was no banner unfolded. There was no postgame address to the crowd. It was a season just like the fourteen before it. As far as fan experiences go, no expectations were challenged.

And that's okay. For years the Spurs have been called boring for all the wrong reasons, but as people have experienced the beauty of an expertly commanded offense with perfect parts working in concert, the "boring" tag has faded away. But in special sense, the Spurs are boring -- just not in the way you used to hear them described. There is no drama left in their regular seasons. We know the ending before the movie has started. Sure, we're still amazed by the spectacle, by what the team shows us on a nightly basis. We'll watch because everything looks awesome. But make no mistake. The ending has always been the same: the hero will survive and win. All a good audience can do is embrace the expected outcome, and enjoy the ride.

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

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

"I don't really care, to be honest with you. You all have to have things to write about, I guess."

Gregg Popovich on the Spurs getting another 50-win season (via Dan McCarney)

GAME MVP

Manu

EMANUEL DAVID "MANU" GINOBILI

PTS

FGM/FGA

3PM/3PA

REB

AST

STL

+/-

MIN

21

8/11

2/5

1

2

1

+11

24:33


Manu Ginobili has been fantastic since returning to the Spurs after his hamstring injury. Sunday night, he had a very efficient, team-leading 21 points and gave the Spurs a needed boost against a feisty Jazz team. HIs play over the season has been steady and huge for San Antonio, and he should absolutely deserve a place in the Sixth Man of the Year discussion. (Jesus Gomez laid out his excellent case for Pounding the Rock here.) However, with all this talk about his legs returning to him as he continues to play, I think most fans share Tony Parker's hesitance. Legs are good, but no more dunks for the old man. It's not worth another hamstring injury.

GAME LVP

4636-2

JEFFREY CURTIS "JEFF" AYRES

PTS

FGM/FGA

REB

AST

STL

BLK

+/-

MIN

2

1/1

1

0

0

0

-3

2:40


It looks to me like Jeff Ayres is falling out of the rotation. In the last four games, both he and Aron Baynes have been available, but Ayres has averaged 6.5 minutes to Baynes' 14.75. Now, I know that's a small sample size and that two of those games were against bottom-dwellers, but this is typically the time in the season where Popovich starts to nail down his rotation. Things aren't looking good for our wooden-handed friend, and on Sunday night, he only played three minutes. I never give out the LVP to a player who plays so few minutes, but I thought it best to highlight a growing development. Both Ayres and Baynes have areas for improvement, but Baynes' minutes have been increasing since the start of the win streak, which could tell you where Popovich is headed come playoffs. At the very least, it's something to monitor as the season winds down.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Get a load of these numbers, via Jeff McDonald: Over the past 10 games, the Spurs are averaging 29.6 assists and have a margin of victory of 15.7 points.
  • Kawhi Leonard "smiled" in the game. While the game was being played. On the court. (The CGI effects budget at FOX Sports Southwest must be HUGE. )Bi4xe3ucmaafykq
  • The Lakers are a half game ahead of the Jazz for last in the conference. I'm not sure how this is possible. The Jazz have, like, actual NBA players.
  • Marco Belinelli has now dunked in two games in a row, and while the one he did in the Lakers game was quite pedestrian, the one last night was downright impressive. Here's Vine proof from Project Spurs' Paul Garcia:
  • Gordon Hayward is a good, young talent. What the Jazz do with him this summer is going to be interesting.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 15: Consecutive 50-win seasons for the Spurs.
  • 58: Spurs bench points Sunday night.
  • 19-0: Spurs' record when Tiago Splitter scores in double digits.
  • 62.8: Spurs' field goal percentage versus the Jazz. Impressive. Most impressive.
  • 2: Spurs' lead for first in the Western Conference over the second-place Oklahoma City Thunder.

BIRD IS THE WORD


THE GAME IN SONG

Here's a 60s song about frolicking in the woods because the Spurs are great right now and we should all enjoy it:


GOING FORWARD, THE SPURS NEED TO...

Beat the cupcakes. April brings a tough schedule to close the season, and games against bottom dwellers in March are great opportunities to keep a cushion between first place in the West and the second-place Thunder.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Pounding The Rock

You must be a member of Pounding The Rock to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pounding The Rock. You should read them.

Join Pounding The Rock

You must be a member of Pounding The Rock to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pounding The Rock. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker