When the final whistle blew on Monday night’s clash with the Boston Celtics, Spurs fans were free to head out into the night and bask in the glory of a truly stunning realization:
The San Antonio Spurs are playing as well as anyone in the NBA right now.
Considering some of the low points of this particular calendar year, it’s safe to say that a lot of us didn’t think that this would be the case as 2019 barged its way into our lives and yet, here we are. Since falling two games below .500 with a loss to the Rockets on November 30th, the Spurs have won 11 of their last 16 games. They’ve surged back into playoff contention, some of their young guys are starting to come along, and they’ve remembered some basic defensive principles. This turnaround is by no means a miracle, but it still quite a thing to behold.
The win over the Celtics was a good one. Boston has also had its struggles at times this season, but they still grade out as one of the league’s top teams. The Spurs matched up with them, held their own, and came out on top. It’s a win that a good team, especially playing at home, should be expected to go out and get. There’s nothing too revelatory in that. I’ve decided to stop being surprised when these Spurs do the things that they’re supposed to do.
It’s 2019 and the Spurs are a good basketball team. I maybe wouldn’t have believed that a month ago but right now it seems just as impossible that we ever thought otherwise. Who knows what we’ll be saying when January rolls over into February. There are quite a few interesting tests between now and then: A back to back matchup with the Thunder, another visit from the Clippers, and even a looming showdown against the best player in the Eastern Conference on Thursday night. Will this revitalized Spurs defense be able to handle Danny Green and the Raptors? I’m excited to find out.
The point is, we’ll continue to learn more about who these Spurs and who they can be in the coming days but, for now, I feel a sense of deep satisfaction with that they’ve done in December. The win against the Celtics was further evidence of a team that’s righted the ship. It would’ve been so easy to let this season slip away. To throw their hands up in the air and cry “injuries” or “Kawhi” or “Warriors” or “witchcraft” and just try again next year. But they didn’t. They are putting in the work and rounding in to shape. By all accounts that shape is looking better and better.
It’s an exciting time to be a Spurs fan.
- The last few games have served as a bit of a coming out party for Derrick White, but none more so than what he did against Boston on Monday. White scored 22 points, played ferocious defense and looked, at times, like the most dangerous player on the court. Considering the amount of talent on this particular court, that was no small feat. White repeatedly held his own with prized young talents like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It’s silly to look too far ahead, especially in the midst of this particular run of good play the Spurs are putting together, but it’s getting harder and harder to not start dreaming about what next year’s backcourt might look like. Adding Dejounte Murray back into a group featuring DeMar DeRozan, Bryn Forbes, and Derrick White is enough to send me into a bit of fever dream.
- The worst post player in the league that the Spurs definitely should’ve traded for draft picks months ago, LaMarcus Aldridge, continues to quietly put together a pretty monster stretch of basketball. It’s almost like all of us shouting wild hot takes on Twitter during his tough month of November don’t know what we’re talking about sometimes. His 32 points against the Celtics was his second game in a row logging over 30 plus points and added to an already pretty sterling month of scoring for the big guy. He also totaled 9 rebounds and 5 assists in this contest for good measure. As much as anyone wearing Silver and Black, LaMarcus Aldridge is the bellwether for this team. When he was playing poorly, the Spurs were playing poorly, and It’s not a coincidence that this little resurgence from the Spurs has coincided with Aldridge finding his footing and playing up to his potential.
- It feels like Davis Bertans is finally becoming the player on the court who I always thought he was in my head. There were times last year when I would find myself screaming at the TV for Pop to put Davis in and just let him cook. According to my wildest speculation, we were keeping this super tall, three-point shooting maniac tethered to the bench instead of unleashing him upon the league to wreak havoc. In my heart of hearts, I knew Pop was probably smarter than me and probably had his reasons for not playing an untested kid before he was ready, but it was still frustrating. You know what though? The wait appears to be over. With his five daggers from beyond the arc tonight, Davis continues to cement himself as one of the most valuable weapons the Spurs have. The dream of our beautiful, flame throwing Latvian three-point ace is alive and the the rest of the league should be afraid.
- Hey, did you guys know that Patty Mills calls Derrick White “DEE WEEZY”? Because if you did and you didn’t tell me then we are now enemies.
HELL OF A GAME DEE WEEZY !!! @Dwhite921 https://t.co/vFIPNJob13— Patrick Mills (@Patty_Mills) January 1, 2019
- MARCO WATCH: Pretty quiet night from our mercurial Italian prince in this game. He was only 1-4 from three point land and the only 3 he did take was a pretty standard catch and shoot affair from the corner. He didn’t drift sideways or explode his feet out or anything. That’s okay though. There were plenty of other fireworks to hold our attention Monday night and, like any good entertainer, Marco knows now that in order to keep the material fresh that you sometimes have to have some quiet moments as well to temper the effect. A bridge before the chorus, if you will. We’re still here Marco, and we’re ready for whatever comes next.