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What we learned from the Spurs loss to the Raptors

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A tough road loss to a good team kicks off the regular season’s stretch run.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing like easing back into things after the All-Star break with a casual little trip North of the border, eh? This was a matchup fraught with emotions and turmoil that made it borderline impossible to analyze from a pure basketball perspective and yet, we must soldier on through this adversity.

The Spurs played...pretty well, to be honest. They looked rusty at times and refreshed at others. DeMar DeRozan looked great and the bench played out of their minds. Rudy Gay added another efficient performance to his Spurs resume and Derrick White looked like he was suffering no ill effects from his recent injury. After withstanding a strong push from Toronto in the 3rd quarter, the Spurs found themselves with a great opportunity to steal a win as the clock wound down towards zero.

Then some, uh, unfortunate stuff happened and (long story short) the win didn’t materialize the way we would’ve hoped.

That’s okay though. The emotional ramifications of a loss like this could be distressing but you have to believe that Popovich and his staff are better suited than almost anyone to guide a team through a situation like this and the Spurs have a favorable schedule full of home games waiting for them just around the corner. There were plenty of good things in this game to focus on and that’s what we should do.

(Man, it really would’ve been nice to get that W.)

Takeaways:

  • DeMar, in spite of the unfortunate ending, looked like he was back to his old self tonight and that is nothing but good news for the Spurs. His shot was falling and, as a result, he was really able to facilitate things on the offensive end. The best version of the Spurs offense has the ball starting in DeMar’s hands with good things flowing from there. I’m still refusing to get worried about the idea that we still have yet to really see both DeMar and LaMarcus play great at the same time because, honestly, we’ve all suffered enough. The DDR-LMA harmonic convergence is coming. We’re building to it. You gotta believe.
  • Patty Mills —when he’s being the good version of Patty Mills— is so much fun to watch. He plays with the confidence of a player with like three times Mill’s actual ability and the audacity is simply breathtaking. There is no one in the league he won’t take on the dribble, no three he won’t take, no pass he won’t attempt. I think he gets away with a lot of this stuff on pure moxie simply because the guys guarding him can’t believe he’s actually attempting what he’s doing. Like, last night he pulled off that MJ move where he drove hard down the lane and then switched hands mid-air for the lay in. Patty “MJ when he wants to be” Mills is easily my favorite Australian point guard the Spurs have ever had.
  • What a huge relief it was to see Derrick White back out there. I know the Spurs have been struggling recently and that it’s scary to think about how much we rely on one player, but it doesn’t need to be scary. Derrick White is really good and really good players are important. When the Spurs were lighting the league on fire it was in large part due to his emergence as a key cog in the machine. The Spurs have struggled without him and, now that he’s back, I bet the struggles begin to make themselves scarce again.
  • The scoreline doesn’t necessarily reflect it, but the Spurs played a lot of really good defense in this game. The effort and intensity were there all night, they rotated well, were quick to help and generally executed all the schemes the coaching staff were drawing up for them. The Raptors are a good offensive team and had to make a lot of tough shots to get to 118. At the end of the day, the Spurs simply don’t have some ace defensive player who is going to swoop in and lock down opponents, so intensity and effort is the best we can ask for.
  • MARCO WATCH: Marco made a lot of wonderful shots in this game. He missed a lot of wonderful shots too. The Tao of Marco underlies the natural harmony and order in the universe that results from both the makes and the misses. We here at Marco Watch attempt to celebrate the beautiful serenity of his chaos and reject the harsh, binary outcome forced upon us by an unforgiving sport. We take equal delight in the clutch three he knocked down in the 4th quarter to put Spurs back in the lead and the awkward loping drive from the 1st quarter ending in a flat footed miss followed by a weird, stilted fall. They are all beautiful in the eye of a true believer. A point given here is taken away elsewhere. Everything in concert with itself and everything at peace with it’s own existence. Would a few of Marco’s weird shots have maybe been better suited in the hands of others and does that hyper thin margin of error sort of drive us nuts WHEN THE SPURS LOSE BY ONE POINT AGAINST THEIR ARCH-NEMSIS KAWHI LEONARD?!?!?!? Shhhh, hush now child. Makes beget misses and misses beget makes. In the harsh face of an unknowable universe, the only thing that really makes sense is to not make any sense at all. Keep shooting, Marco. Shoot with all your heart.