The biggest highlight of the Spurs riveting Game 1 victory over the Denver Nuggets was no doubt Derrick White. That much isn’t even up for debate. However, what might be is exactly which of his moments was the biggest. Was it his thunderous dunk over Paul Millsap in what was otherwise a snoozer of a third quarter for both sides?
DERRICK WHITE WITH THE BLATANT DISRESPECT #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/FPJ6VXulb8— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 14, 2019
Or was it his game-clinching steal from Jamal Murray with just seconds left?
Derrick White with a clutch steal on Murray to likely seal the win at Denver pic.twitter.com/wesu2wexEh— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) April 14, 2019
Those were both amazing moments from the second-year pro in his first meaningful playoff game, but I would argue that highlight of the night was the reaction his steal generated from the Spurs’ bench.
There’s so much to enjoy in the bench’s reaction to Derrick White’s game-clinching steal. pic.twitter.com/V96xHlDdiN— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) April 14, 2019
There’s so much to unlock here. There’s Ime Udoka quadrupling Becky Hammon on the number of “yeah’s!” it takes to capture the moment. There’s Gary Harris, on the court and in the game, with a quick look of shock, followed by “Oh, man. Come on.” Marco Belinelli, while never a huge bench celebrant, is easily to mistake for someone who’s unaware of what just happened or how to react. Perhaps Marco is simply doing all he can to ignore whatever it is that Drew Eubanks is doing. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to Drew in a moment.)
There’s some synchronized pogo work from Jakob Poeltl and new Spur and coffee lover Donatas Motiejunas. There are similar fist pumps from Bryn Forbes and Davis Bertans. Dante Cunningham and Ben Moore slide to open space to enjoy the moment with a bit more room — or just to give Eubanks more room to do his thing.
Then there are the people in the crowd. Over Bertans’s head, at the top of the screen, there a guy in a light colored shirt who goes with the double-arm raise; good choice, always a classic. Down and just to the right is a man in a black jacket who looks like he’s trying to make a bid at an auction. Over Forbes’ head at the top of the screen is a guy in a black cap with white lettering who goes through an entire progression of delight: first he wonders if he can applaud yet, then he commits to a single clap, before immediately switching to two separate “it’s over” gestures before settling on his own double-arm raise.
Then there’s the Denver fan under the Exit sign who must have had a bad feeling about the play because he’s standing there with his hands over his head before White even makes the steal. My heart goes out to that guy, because ... man, we’ve all been there. You know it’s not going to go well, and you’re right.
Which brings Drew Eubanks, who completely steals the show. To begin with, how should his celebration even be categorized? Is he doing the running man? Is he galloping? Is he doing an exaggerated version of Monty Python’s Holy Grail knights pretending to ride a horse? Now that we’re finally focusing on Drew, it seems likely that Cunningham knows from experience that it’s not going to go well for him if he’s next to Eubanks when a big play happens. Yeah, it’s all just elbows and knees and feet and motion without getting anywhere. Well done, Drew.
There’s just something that is so much fun about this team. They aren’t always entertaining to watch, but they’re a joy to watch be together. From the starters to the end of the bench, they are all one big family that enjoy playing together and want to extend the good times for as long as possible. Hopefully, that includes plenty more than just one game in the first round in the playoffs.