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What We Learned from the Spurs big ol’ win over the Celtics

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Here’s the thing about why the Spurs are going to not only make the playoffs but are probably going to go ahead and win a round or two...

San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Sure, maybe we shouldn’t get overly excited about a measly two wins. Anyone can win two games in the NBA, in fact, I have it on good authority that the Knicks do it on the regular. And yea, sure, maybe both the Bucks and the Celtics had extremely uncharacteristically bad shooting nights that can only generously be attributed to any defensive hoodoo thrown at them by the Silver & Back. And yea, SURE, of course the slight uptick in offensive efficiency from the Spurs might only last until opposing defenses finally commit to a defensive strategy that boils down to “If LaMarcus Aldridge beats us from behind the three point line then so be it.” All of these things can be true but, if I may quote my close personal friend John Mulaney for a moment, “Just because you’re accurate does not mean you’re interesting.”

What these “facts” and “figures” fail to take into account is that the Spurs are fun again and that changes everything. This whole season has been a drag in every sense of the word. We’ve spent as much time discussing whether or not to ship the entire roster out of town as we have anything that’s been happening on the court. There’s been close losses, there’s been big losses, and there’s been wins that kind of felt like losses. Maybe a decent win or two sprinkled in there for good measure but never anything that gave much hope. Any success so far this season has been couched in a weird sort of quicksand that the entire franchise appears to be stuck in. The more this particular team seemed to fight and scrap and claw away, the more it seemed to sink down into the dreaded middle class of the NBA. Too bad to be good and too good to ever get any better.

It’s been bleak.

So, bearing that in mind, who are these guys who are all of a sudden lighting it up out there? This team is spreading the floor, it’s shooting threes, and it’s running really good teams out of the gym. It’s like the entire team, from the coaching staff on down, got body-swapped or something. DeMar DeRozan has turned into an efficiency demigod. Jakob Poeltl is the best (non Buck) rim protector in the league! Gregg Popovich is looks like he’s taking advice on lineup rotations from the Spurs Reddit page. It’s basically human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

I know, I know, I know. We’re still smack dab in the middle of the smallest of sample sizes and this could all come crashing down at any minute. But let me ask you this...who cares? Please, go ahead and indulge in this one a little bit Spurs fans. We’ve been shouting all year for the team to take more threes and now they’re doing it. We wanted our young, exciting players to get more playing time together and it’s finally happening. Everyone (mostly) wanted Marco glued to the bench and he has been. This is the dream. We knew this team was capable of playing better and now that it’s happening are we really going to sit around just waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Well, forget that.

The Spurs are showing signs of life for the first time in forever. Hopefully it’s something sustainable that can carry us on through to the type of season San Antonio’s used to, but even if it’s not, who cares? The wins are nice, but the idea that they’re winning these games and doing it while looking like the best version of themselves is the thing that’s getting everybody riled up. It’s not like we’ve wanted to sit around being bummed out about things like, “DeMar and LaMarcus aren’t good enough.” They are good enough. This team is good enough. Two wins is a small sample size, sure, but go beyond these last two games and there’s plenty of evidence to show that the teams has been slowly improving for weeks — that this group of players is capable of becoming more than the sum of it’s parts. If the bottom of the Western Conference is going to be bad, maybe the Spurs can stop messing around and be good for a bit.

I think Spurs fans are optimists by nature. We’ve been trying to pull off this facade where we pretend to be cool NBA fans who are down with tanking seasons under the bleachers after class or whatever, but it’s never been a good fit. We’d rather fight for every win we can get. We’d rather make the playoffs for the TWENTY THIRD CONSECUTIVE SEASON. We drafted Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Lonnie Walker IV deep in the draft. Who even needs a lottery pick these days?

We’re fans of the San Antonio Freakin’ Spurs. It’s about time we’re started acting like it.

Takeaways

  • I’m all in on this version of DeMar DeRozan. The one where he’s brimming with confidence and it looks like he’s having fun out there? Yea, that’s the good stuff. He’s draining shots from his usual spots; he’s absolutely bullying people down by the rim, and he’s getting to the line like crazy. Wednesday night was the type of performance where, if he can tap into consistently, the Spurs can really go places. He doesn’t need to get thirty every night, but if he can make defenses collapse on him and if the team can routinely make opponents pay for it from deep — well, I mean, that’s essentially basketball 101 isn’t it? Over the first months of the season, it seemed like we’d maybe lost this version of DeMar forever and it’s so nice to see him come back for an extended visit.
  • Maybe we’re making too much out of the “revolutionary” idea of LaMarcus Aldridge stretching the floor, but it’s hard to not look at how much space the offense has to operate right now without freaking out a little bit. The thing is, the Spurs didn’t even shoot well from deep Wednesday night and they still put up 129 points. That’s insane! It speaks to the fact the the Celtics we’re genuinely worried about the Spurs taking advantage of open shots out there so they weren’t going to just sit back and let them have it. The trick, obviously, is going to be keeping this up when teams do throw up their hands and say, “go ahead, beat us from out there” but we’ll worry about that when it happens.
  • Dejounte Murray pushes the ball down the court off a miss and swings it over to Patty Mills. Patty drives into the lane and hands it off to a crashing DeMar and the Celtics defense collapses. He finds DJ in the corner. DJ whips it Patty who whips it to Lonnie who drains the wide open three with no hesitation and OH MY GOD, WHO ARE THESE GUYS?!?!?
  • TIM DUNCAN FIT BORING SUIT WATCH: Look, I don’t want to go full conspiracy theory here, but at this point I’m like 95% sure Tim Duncan has been reading these blogs and I’m, like, 90% sure he’s somehow gotten a hold of the PtR schedule to find out which games I’m writing about because it now seems that he is officially wearing my least favorite suit option every time I show up to work. I don’t know if he thinks it’s some kind of hilarious prank or if he’s genuinely trying to bring me over to the dark side and getting me to like this look or what. It’s hard to say. Maybe Popovich was like, “Timmy, I love you, but you look too good on the sidelines. It’s distracting me” and Tim was like, “Fine, I’ll start dressing more like an unpaid intern if you promise to play Lonnie more” and Pop was like, “deal.” That’s probably what happened. Tim, sincerely, thank you for your service. It looks like it’s really turned this season around.
San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images