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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Suns

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The Spurs continue to not be content with playing a mere four quarters of basketball.

San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Winning feels more fun than losing and for that reason, I suppose, I’m thankful the Spurs were able to pull out a victory against the Suns in this one. Let’s be clear though, this was an ugly win against a team that was missing its best player. The Spurs played well sporadically and they played poorly consistently. Outside of the final score, you could be forgiven for walking away from this one still feeling pretty blah about the overall state of the San Antonio Spurs in 2019.

I think I’m having fun watching this team most of the time. I realize that sentence doesn’t make the most sense but neither do the Spurs right now so I’m just going to go with it. I really like all of these guys across the board. There’s not a bad apple in the bunch. DeMar DeRozan is a warrior and LaMarcus Aldridge has proved his mettle for this franchise over and over. Rudy Gay’s continued high level of play is inspiring. Patty Mills is a beautiful human being. The core of young guys are each bursting with potential in their own special ways. The list goes on and on. I really love all the pieces on this team, but more often than not the picture on the puzzle is bumming me out.

This mess of conflicting ideals leads to a weird thing where I spend entire games watching with a frustrating little push/pull in my head. I desperately want the Spurs to win and I desperately want these guys I care about to do well while, at the same time, I feel like if things don’t change soon I’m going to lose my mind. It’s like I need things to not work in a more obvious way so there can be a significantly clearer mandate to change. It’s not that I’m sitting here outright cheering against the Spurs, but sometimes it sort of feels that way and, let me tell you, it feels pretty icky.

This win was nice, but it still left me cold. It was satisfying in the same way that eating five pieces of “Fun Size” Halloween candy is when you’re starving. I don’t know what to do about it. I’m tired of watching a team that I like in theory fail repeatedly in practice. I’m tired of feeling like the team is just at the beginning of long stay in purgatory. I’m tired of posting these stories to Twitter with the headline “What We Learned” and having the replies stream in on cue, “that we suck.”

I’m sorry. I know this was supposed to be a victory post and those are supposed to be a little less morbid than usual but, hey, this is actually only the first win I’ve gotten to write about since October so I’m going to just chalk it up to being out of practice.

The Spurs are going to be fine. We’re all going to be fine. At the end of the day, all of this is just a game and if we’re not going to derive any joy out of Patty Mills drilling a game winning shot in front of a raucous crowd in Mexico City then we’re definitely losing sight of why we’re even watching in the first place. The last couple of seasons have been a humbling experience for a lot of us and we could all probably be doing a better job of enjoying the pieces in front of us and letting the bigger picture take care of itself.

Takeaways

  • Honestly, it’s infuriating that Patty Mills didn’t take the last shot in regulation. He spent pretty much the entire game looking like a FIBA Patty and then he spent pretty much the entire fourth quarter engulfed in flames. I know there was kind of an attempt to draw a play up for him there, but it didn’t feel like there was a real commitment to it. It was obviously Patty’s destiny to hit a game winner in this game and not forcing the issue here meant we were all doomed to stick around for a fourth consecutive overtime game like a bunch of chumps.
  • I could probably spend two hours raging about how bad the last play in regulation was. No, not the one where they inexplicably let Kelly Oubre Jr. get off a corner three to tie the game, the other terrible last play of regulation that resulted in a Rudy Gay turnaround fadeaway the clanked off the rim. Derrick White and Rudy Gay set a double screen for Patty (smart!) that didn’t work at all because the Suns switched on it immediately. Then, Derrick and Rudy just run into each other (dumb!) and now DeMar is panicking because there’s no timeouts left and the ref is doing that karate chop “time is running out” motion and so he just tosses it into the middle of the floor, presumably because Rudy is tall. I guess I prefer this to the “Let DeMar iso for a while and then take a contested 15 footer” play but it still feels like we could be doing better here.
  • Did everyone else have a slow motion panic attack watching Lonnie Walker IV limp off into the locker room? If his super positive tweets are to be believed, it looks like he’s going to be fine but the mere thought of him getting knocked down right when he was finally getting a chance to shine was maybe one of the bleakest ideas I’ve encountered in quite some time. Woof. Stay healthy out there, folks.
  • Trey Lyles getting inserted into the starting lineup was a pretty surprising turn of events considering that I, personally, had sort of forgotten about Trey Lyles altogether. This whole not being able to figure out our best starting five thing three months into the season seems like it might be a pretty glaring red flag about the construction of the roster as a whole.
  • Tim Duncan Fit Watch: I would’ve really like to end this thing on a positive note but I regret to inform you that our guy really caught an L with this one. In the past I’ve advocated strongly for Tim expressing his own individuality when it comes to “dress shirts” because the idea of him just rocking a collared button down to work every day like some accountant is not something that anyone wants. He’s experimented with some mock turtlenecks and some collarless dress shirts and for the most part I’ve like the results. For this game though, he went with a henley t-shirt under a suit jacket and I just can’t in good conscious sanction this behavior. The shirt is just too flimsy to hold up to something as robust as this jacket. It makes it look like he went to a restaurant with a dress code and they had to just give him something out of the lost and found to wear. It’s not good. Couple this with the fact that, for some reason, his pants seemed baggier than usual last night and, well, yea this whole thing was a disaster. Keep your head up though Tim, fashion wasn’t built in a day. C-
San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns
Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan pictured here stressing about Tim’s fit (probably)
Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images