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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Wolves

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The tough times in Spursland continue

San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

It just felt stale out there. The whole operation felt stale. I’ve been struggling to put my finger on what exactly has been bothering me about this team recently, and last night, at long last, I finally had an epiphany. I wasn’t mad about anything the Spurs were doing. I wasn’t yelling at the TV or angrily refreshing Twitter. I didn’t have that sinking feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach as another lead slipped further and further away. Instead, I think I was just bored.

I know “boring” is sort of a touchy subject in these parts. Long has that word been casually thrown around by people when describing the Spurs and I’ve never not bristled at it. It just felt so unfathomably mean. It was a word that people used to casually dismiss something we cared so deeply about. Imagine being seven years old and spending your whole weekend building a giant castle or something out of Legos, you know, really pouring your heart and soul into it, and then going to school on Monday and overhearing the cool kids at lunch talking about how boring Legos were. That’s what it felt like whenever Bill Simmons or the PTI guys or whoever else in your life would tell you that they would rather do anything else than watch Tim Duncan hit another bank shot.

Even when the titles were rolling in every other year, all we would hear is boring. The Kobe/Shaq Lakers were fun, the Spurs were boring. The “7 seconds or less” Suns were revolutionizing the NBA, the Spurs were boring. How many people have told you that the ‘05 Spurs-Pistons Finals was the most boring Finals ever and then walked away before you could even explain about Robert Horry’s dunk in Game 5? It was infuriating back then and it still gets me riled up when people do it now.

Look, I mostly want to express that I’m not just sitting over here throwing around the “B” word lightly. I am very implicitly not doing that thing that people do where they go, “well of course I respect the Spurs, but I just would rather watch more exciting teams.” Bleh. This is not that. This is just me, very solemnly, reporting on the fact that this team isn’t very fun to watch right now.

You are allowed to be dull when that routine is rooted in the type of hyper-competency that defined the Big Three era. Boring is fine when you’re winning because winning is a cheat code. It cures all ills. Now, if you’re going to lose, you absolutely have to do it with some gumption. If your guys simply don’t have a win in them, you want to at least see them valiantly throwing spaghetti at the wall every night and seeing what sticks. You want them to keep dusting themselves off and trying new ideas and working towards something better and bolder at all times. Losing isn’t the end of the road if you’re confident that you’re still going somewhere.

I don’t know if I have that confidence anymore. What’s the plan for this season? Where is this thing headed? Are we just going to keep running the Bad Defense-Midrange Jumper plan ad infinitum until the world folds in on itself? I mean, this isn’t even as binary as the idea that we should either be playing for a title or tanking. That’s not a healthy way to look at anything, and it’s not something I’m advocating for. My issue is that this looks like a team built to chase the 6th seed and, right now, they aren’t even doing a good job of that.

The Spurs are boring right now and unless something changes, they’re likely to stay that way.

Takeaways:

  • The most troubling thing about last night’s loss to me was how well DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge played. DeMar looked more comfortable with his shot than he has all season, and LaMarcus actually dealt with a tough Karl-Anthony Towns matchup pretty adroitly. They were both steady contributors all night, which is all I’m every really asking of them at this point. For so long I’ve held on to this belief that if those two were firing on all cylinders then it all would simply fall into place around them and everything would be okay. Instead, they kept things afloat for as long as they could but at the end of the day, they simply weren’t enough. I’m going to move on before I start crafting a larger metaphor out of this.
  • I’m not worried about Dejounte Murray yet. It’s his first real season in this role as a starter, and he’s obviously going to go through some ups and downs. That’s expected and I don’t think we should spend too much time fretting about what it means for his long term prospects. That being said, seeing as we all sort of pinned our hopes and dreams for the Spurs jumping up a level this season onto the idea of Dejounte having one of those “take the league by storm” years...well, we just might need to strap in for a bit of a bumpier ride on that particular road to glory.
  • Rudy Gay is maybe the one guy on the team getting me super fired up these days. He keeps throwing down rowdy dunks and swatting layups into the stands and getting in fights with people. It’s very impressive. I’m worried about a lot of things with this Spurs team, but Rudy Gay ain’t one of them.
  • Most NBA arenas these days play some sort of weird, loud music when when the home team brings the ball up the court. It’s usually some sort of obnoxious hip-hop sample or an entirely too loud guitar riff and the purpose of it has always been a little unclear to me. Is it to get the crowd fired up? Do we think that the players hearing the instrumental version of Ludacris’s ‘Move B****H’ is going somehow spur them on to greater heights? I’m not going to solve this mystery today, but I bring it up only to ask whether or not anyone else picked up on the music the in-arena people were playing for the Wolves last night? It was a kind of relaxing, smooth jazz, easy listening type number and it really worked for me. I didn’t realize that watching basketball while listening to the theme from Taxi was a mood I wanted to vibe with but, I dunno, these are wild times we’re living in.
  • TIM DUNCAN FIT WATCH: This was a solid, if unremarkable look from Tim. Dark Grey over Periwinkle Blue is a nice, controlled contrast befitting a man who is growing ever more comfortable in his expanded role as leader on the bench. I’m not crazy about the Fly Front covered placket style on this particular dress shirt though. It’s a look that always looks out of place in a non-formal setting and, well, we’re trying to look nice out here obviously, but a Wednesday night in Minnesota is not exactly the Social Event of the season, you know? B
San Antonio Spurs v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images