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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Mavericks

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A valiant comeback effort falls short as a tough season limps along.

Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

There’s not too much to analyze about this particular game that we haven’t been over before. The Spurs just did not have the dudes to compete in this one. Someday, hopefully, some of these guys will be the dudes and I’m very much looking forward to that day. Unfortunately though, today is not that day. C’est la vie.

I’m still in that weird phase right now where I’m trying to relearn how to watch the Spurs. To live and die by each result is a fool’s errand, so instead you have to adjust the settings. It’s tricky. You have to almost turn the competitive juices off in your brain and refocus all your energy elsewhere. You’re happy with the good things and you feel indifferent, almost academic in a way, about the bad things. You’re not mad that the Spurs are down by 19 in the 2nd quarter, you’re just discouraged that our guys don’t seem to know what to do when confronted with a zone defense. You make a note to bring this up with Popovich the next time you have lunch with him.

Watching the Spurs at the moment almost feels like you are somehow on the outside of your own body and watching it go through the motions of daily life. All sorts of familiar basketball things are happening in front of you and they all look the same way they did a few years ago but the emotions they elicit are alien and slightly uncomfortable. It’s a profoundly unsettling way to spend your Wednesday night but, then again, maybe I just need to lighten up.

It’s really not altogether unpleasant. Sometimes at the end of these games I feel like I’ve spent the entire time examining a map and searching for clues. Lonnie Walker IV will track some poor fool along the baseline and swat his layup attempt into the stands and I’ll say to myself, “hmm, he can do that now? Very interesting” and then I’ll connect another bit of red yarn from his picture up on my conspiracy cork board. I’m trying to help but, I mean, come on, I know that’s silly. I have no control over any of this. So why do I sit in front of the TV and act like my mental notes about Derrick White’s help-side defense are important?

I guess at the heart of this, it’s that I’m trying to stay invested. That’s the thing, right? It would be so easy to just check all the way out of this whole situation, turn on league pass, watch a team that knows what it’s doing while waiting to see what kind of hand we’re dealt next year. Shoot, we could all just set a Google alert for when the articles about how the Spurs are good start popping up again and just hop right back in like nothing happened. It’d be easy, no one is even keeping track!

I don’t want to do that though. I want to lock in right now when it’s hard to be a Spurs fan. I don’t want to wake up one day when Dejounte and Lonnie and Derrick are running this league and realize I missed half the journey. I want to see them figure it out, piece by piece. I want to watch DeMar DeRozan ply his trade out there and I want to enjoy LaMarcus Aldridge expanding his game as career goes on. I want to celebrate this genuinely great season from Patty Mills and, yes, I want desperately want to see Marco Belinelli do weird stuff in Spurs jersey while I still can. I want to experience it all, to feel it all. The good and the bad. It might be a long time until the Spurs get back to the top of the mountain, but the first couple steps are are just as important as the last ones.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Takeaways

  • It was almost laughable how drastically the game changed every time Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis went to the bench. Those two are just so good and so big and, especially with LaMarcus out of the lineup, the Spurs simply have no answer for it. I had a moment of excitement when I realized that Lonnie being in the starting lineup meant that they we’re going to go small to start the game until I realized that Spurs version of going small means playing smaller players and the Mavs version of going small means playing bigger dudes out where the small ones usually are. This is a key distinction and probably another thing I should bring up to Popovich the next time we play golf.
  • Trey Lyles had sort of a tough night out there, what with the being tasked with guarding two guys who are demonstrably better than him all night, but I still feel like he deserves an appreciation post or a cookie or...something. He’s been playing consistently better in recent weeks to the point where I kind of hope he sticks around next year and just keeps getting better. He’s not big, but he really can shoot and I think he can be a valuable cog defensively when he’s not asked to anchor the whole operation. I don’t know, this was maybe the wrong game to choose to celebrate Trey Lyles, but we’re already here so let’s all watch him hit that clutch go ahead three a few more times and pretend the game ended immediately thereafter.
  • If the Spurs don’t sign some shooters in the offseason or, alternatively, lock our young guys in a gym and force them to shoot and make 8 million threes before they can see the sun again, then I am going to lose my mind. I have this thought roughly one hundred times a game, but the Spurs could be so fun if they were actually dangerous from outside. So fun. Derrick, DJ, and Lonnie grabbing the ball and sprinting down the court on the break is one of the most exciting things in the world as far as I’m concerned and I love when they just take it all the way and finish but, oh man, can you imagine if they had an outlet to do that little fast break drive and kick thing that all the cool kids in the league do? They’d be so good at it! Derrick in particular always has his head on a swivel, he’s always looking and ready when teams collapse on him and right now it’s just like a toss up as to whether or not Bryn Forbes or Marco have remembered how to hit threes on this particular night. I’m ready for the next phase of this. #NewSlogan: Lock ’em in a gym!
  • Hot take here maybe, but I like these weird Mavs city edition jerseys. The font is goofy, so what?!? Maybe you’re goofy. I think the light blue/navy blue gradient thing actually works and the neon looks like that weird neon building they have in Dallas. It all makes sense to me and I don’t understand what the problem is. “They look like the Space Jam jerseys.” People love Space Jam! Find a new slant. The Spurs have rolled out a plain grey and an urban camo jersey for what feels like a full decade at this point. My kingdom for some weird jerseys.
  • TIM DUNCAN FIT WATCH: It’s been a minute, but our favorite blazer was back in action on Wednesday night and it looked as good as it ever. Now, obviously, the star of the show here is the blazer, but we would be remiss if the understated and subtle cobalt grey slacks in this ensemble went unnoticed. It would be easy to go with a simple black, or even a tried and true navy blue, but the cobalt is an excellent supporting player. It doesn’t draw attention, but instead allows for the deep, rich color up top to settle in and breathe. The secret to unlocking this blazer is understanding that even though it has an inherent brightness to it because it lives in the red family, it’s actually a pretty dark tone. The color doesn’t pop out at you, it nestles into your awareness. If you pair this blazer with a black or a navy, then all of a sudden the raspberry is playing out of position as the lighter element because it’s struggling against with that all encompassing darkness of....well, black. Which brings us back to our cobalt grey. The grey spreads the floor and opens things up. The grey is a team player. It would’ve been easy for Timmy to throw this blazer on and call it a day, but it’s encouraging to see him crafting the whole palette.
Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images