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What we learned from the Spurs win over the Knicks

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The Spurs grinded out a win on opening night, but leave us grappling with more questions than answers.

New York Knicks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

I love thinking about the concept of ‘what we learned’ on opening night because the chances that any of us actually learned anything from this game are pretty much zero. Learning implies knowing and knowing implies becoming aware of certain indisputable facts. At this very moment, almost every single thing is as disputable as it gets. Never again will we have less data with which to have learned anything than we do right this second. This new season is just a giant monolith sitting in the desert right now and we’re all a bunch of howling apes trying to figure out what’s going on.

I don’t know, but I think that the Spurs didn’t look great tonight. Well. They looked fine. They sometimes looked good and they sometimes didn’t. It was a real mixed bag is what I’m trying to say. There were some spectacular little runs and some kind of embarrassing little meltdowns. There were some brilliant plays and some buffoonish ones. I know most of us were hoping that they would come out in this game like a well oiled machine and simply cruise through what is supposed to be a terrible Knicks team. Instead we were truly horrified that we found ourselves in a dogfight down the stretch with one of the Morris twins and a never ending cavalcade of power forwards. This is decidedly not how we drew it up.

NBA.com

A win is good though, even one as ugly as this. Towards the end of the year, when this stupidly difficult Western conference playoff race is coming down to its final days, no one is going to care whether or not the Spurs had to grind out a terrible game against the Knicks in October. The only thing that will matter is that they did.

Watching your team during the first game of the season is a bit like staring up into the sky on a cloudless night. The whole expanse is out there in front of you, an infinite void with limitless possibilities. You can see everything and understand nothing. Is that a star or a space station? A planet or trash? We can probably find out, but it’s going to take a little time. That’s the fun part though. All of us out here, getting to unravel the mysteries of the universe together. I mean, if you could go to a website right this second, type in a code, and know exactly how the Spurs season turned out, would you do it? Of course not. The journey is the destination, man.

All we can do right now is watch and speculate and hope and think and dream. We can pray that the show Dejounte Murray put on tonight is for real and that DeMar DeRozan soon remembers how to become Death: The Destroyer of Midrange Worlds. We can wonder if Bryn Forbes will keep morphing into an all-powerful waterbug with elite three point range. We can tell ourselves that Coach Popovich will remember to put Lonnie Walker IV in the game ... eventually. We can do all of this until our heart’s content.

But we can’t know anything. Not yet, anyway.

Takeaways

  • I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t know everything about the game of basketball, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Pop running the “turn the ball over” play 21 times maybe shouldn’t be the plan moving forward. I don’t know though, maybe we put a pin in it for the time being.
  • There’s no easy way to discuss how bad DeMar DeRozan looked for the vast majority of the game. It wasn’t just that he missed shots, it’s that he looked like he was lacking confidence until maybe about the 7 minute mark of the 4th quarter. Look, I don’t need him to hit threes and I don’t need him to play elite defense because I truly believe that this team can go a lot of places with DeMar simply running the show on offense. We need him barreling down the lane and ripping the ball through to the baseline and attacking the rim. His role is to be a catalyst, a guy who forces the defense to pay attention to him and allows everyone else to flourish. He’s great at that. He was great at it last season and considering that his supporting cast should be improved this year, there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again. Guys are allowed to be rusty, but DeMar’s performance here was just this side of worrisome.
  • As bad as DeMar looked, Dejounte Murray looked about as good as anyone could’ve hoped for. He was a bundle of energy on both ends of the floor, constantly causing chaos on defense and cooly running the show on offense. When good things happened for the Spurs in this game, they most likely came from Dejounte. Every time he got the ball, you could feel everyone on the floor sort of brace for his inevitable explosion towards the rim. This franchise has had ton of great players over the course of its history, but there’s an almost kinetic energy about Murray that feels unlike everything we’ve seen before in a Spurs jersey. Maybe it’s a little disingenuous to call this game a coming out party or anything because he’s not exactly a well kept secret, but I think it’s safe to say that he’s going to spend this year announcing himself as a real force to be reckoned with in the league every time he steps on the floor.
  • I just could not find it in me to get worked up about Marcus Morris. Like, I know we all miss Davis, but this whole episode just felt a bit extraneous to everything else going on. Was Davis going to be the difference maker for a Spurs championship run? Probably not. Was Marcus Morris going to be the deciding factor? Probably not (although, I guess if he puts up 26 points a game like he did tonight...maybe?). I love a good rivalry like everyone else, but it feels like we’re bound to have better things to be petty about right now than Marcus Morris and his agent being bad at contracts.
  • TIM DUNCAN FIT WATCH: Your typical first year assistant coach likely strives to keep it pretty normal out there on the sidelines. Black, Navy, and Grey suits are the order of the day. Nothing flashy. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself, right? Tim Duncan, on the other hand, has this thing where he really can’t help but draw attention to himself no matter what he’s wearing. He is, after all, a 7-foot tall, future hall of famer, who has been super famous for going on two decades now. Makes it hard to blend in. It’s fun to keep that attitude in mind as you watch him take little, baby giraffe steps out into the world of dressing like a grown up this year. For opening night, he decided to rock with a royal blue blazer and a light blue shirt, paired up with a deep caramel khaki. Not traditional, but certainly not knocking anyone off their boat or anything. It’s a crisp look that’s holding hands with Autumn, but not quite ready to say goodbye to Summer yet. Throw in some fun, brightly colored (possibly Fiesta-inspired) striped socks and, look out, we’re practically in a Bonobos ad over here. They aren’t all going to be winners, but I think this look deserves an A.
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