It was getting pretty bleak before the All-Star break there, wasn’t it? I know I was feeling the squeeze a little bit, and I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like in the locker room. The trade deadline came and pretty much everyone on the roster had to sit there and try to focus, knowing that at any minute they might have their entire careers and lives uprooted, which sounds like an impossible task. Then, when the Spurs eventually stood pat, they had to regroup and try to pretend like what they just lived through wasn’t super weird. Meanwhile the losses were piling up and playoffs were getting further out of reach and everything just felt...off.
So, yea. The players obviously needed a break, but I think it’s safe to say that the fans might’ve needed one too. This season has just been so weird, and difficult, and weird, and turbulent and...did I say weird? Somewhere in the middle of blowing that lead to the Nuggets, my enthusiasm for watching this group just started heading for the exits. I love the Spurs, but I was tired of trying to solve for X with them night after night after night. One night they’re a squad of crafty veterans rounding into “nobody wants to see us in the playoffs” shape. The next night they’re old, tired and out of ideas. The young guys are fun and exciting, obviously, but they’re also squarely in that phase where they can look way in over their heads at a moment’s notice. We’re 55 games into the season and I still can’t figure out what this team wants to be. I’m no brain genius or anything, so it’s fine if I can’t necessarily solve this particular Rubik’s cube, but the creeping suspicion that the people in charge don’t really know the answer either hasn’t gone away.
All of which is to say, I had a lot of fun watching the boys last night! It was genuinely nice to see them play basketball again and that isn’t a place I was sure I could get back to this season. They rolled into one of the most difficult arenas to play and took the fight to a pretty top tier playoff team. Did they do that thing where they spend part of the fourth quarter deciding whether or not to throw all their good work in the trash and just let the Jazz have it? Sure they did. But they also decided not to go through with it and that at least has to count for something!
I don’t care about tanking. I refuse to be the type of fan who gets stressed out that every win takes us further and further away from some magical ping pong ball that’s going to land us our next savior. That’s a miserable way to live. I want to watch the team I’m cheering for play good basketball and if it means they have to draft at 15 instead of 7 then so be it. Giannis was drafted at 15. Kawhi was drafted at 15. Anthony Bennett was drafted at 1.
The die has been cast for this season and I think I’m finally ready to just ride the wave on in. There’s going to be good nights and bad nights and at the end of it all we can spend the summer figuring out what we have and regrouping for next year. I’m not worried about wins. I’m not worried about losses. I’m not worried about playoff spots. I’m not worried about draft positions. All that matters is that the Spurs play again on Sunday and I’m actually looking forward to watching it.
I may not know where we’re headed, but at least I’m still excited about the journey.
- Dejounte Murray is continuing this streak where he looks incredible and I almost don’t want to say anything else because I’m worried I might scare it away. It feels like something in his demeanor finally clicked into gear a few games ago and he now he just feels completely comfortable taking control of possessions. There was a hesitancy to his game that probably stems from the whole devastating injury that kept him from playing competitive basketball for a whole year thing. He looks really good though! That little move he did at the end of the 2nd quarter where he swooped in and swiped the inbounds pass right out of Rudy Gobert’s hands for an easy bucket? You don’t do stuff like that unless you’ve got a little bounce in your step and, thankfully, it feels like DJ is finally overflowing with bounce again.
- We don’t often get to celebrate the Spurs defense these days so, hey, let’s give it up for a particularly stingy defensive outing from the Silver & Black! They looked tough and physical out there against a very athletic Jazz team. Sure, they’re were a handful of times where Rudy Gobert was extremely tall and they did let Emmanuel Mudiay go off a little more than I would like, but this was still the type of performance that almost gives you hope that it might be repeatable. You can’t control your talent, but you can control your effort and if your effort can hold the Jazz to 104 points, well, you just might have something.
- That being said, I hate everything about the Spurs switching to zone defense and I wish they would stop doing it. I understand why it might, in theory, be a good change of pace to throw at teams but I think that only works if you have guys who are good at playing zone defense and our guys are only sometimes good at playing regular defense so this might be a bridge to far. Theories are fine, but after someone takes your theory and repeatedly bashes you over the head with it six or seven times then maybe it’s time to get a new one.
- TIM DUNCAN FIT WATCH: I’m kind of surprising myself with this take but, you guys, I think I liked this fit? Am I crazy, or does this look pretty good? I have talked at length about disliking Tim’s Black/White/Grey combo platter and I know that this top set is a strong 2/3s of that equation, but something about throwing in these Cedar Wood colored slacks in the mix really works for me. It’s somehow rugged and refined at the same time. It looks thrown together, without seeming haphazard. This is the casual Tim Duncan of your dreams. This is the Tim Duncan who is not out to make a fashion statement, he’s just here to look nice and coach some basketball. This is Tim Duncan getting back to the fundamentals.