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DeRozan and the Spurs come up big in the clutch against the Celtics

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Back to Back clutch plays from DeMar & Dejounte help San Antonio close out the Celtics, 110-106

NBA: Boston Celtics at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

I owe DeMar DeRozan an apology. The ones of you that don’t hang on my every word, I wrote an article after the Spurs loss to the Dallas Mavericks. In it I wrote something to the effect of, DeMar DeRozan is not clutch and has shown it over and over again. Since then I have been shown stats that says otherwise and I watched this game tonight against the Boston Celtics.

There is probably around a 0% chance that DeMar read what I first wrote and would be reading this, but DeMar I come to you, hat in hand, and say, “I’m sorry”.

I’m not apologizing for being wrong, I’m apologizing for being a jerk. Being a fan can make you crazy. After all, “fan” is short for fanatic. As we know, being a fanatic is not always a good thing. In general in my sports fandom I haven’t really watched one team’s every game. Growing up in Northern California I didn’t watch the Kings or Warriors, I watched whatever basketball game was on. I just liked watching great basketball players playing great basketball.

This season I have watched every Spurs game so far, and as hard as I have tried to avoid it and stay impartial, I can’t help but become attached. I want the best for these guys, you could say I’m like an overbearing stage parent, I don’t always react the way I should when things don’t go well for them.

Another first for me this season is having a platform to express my opinions. Unfortunately after the Dallas game I spoke from my freshly wounded heart. Looking back on it, that’s not the kind of writer, fan, or person I want to be. I don’t want to let my emotions take over and lash out. Sports are supposed to be fun. I like DeMar DeRozan and feel like he is a vastly underrated player who doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Unfortunately, even from me sometimes. So DeMar, I was wrong and I’m sorry.

Enough about me. That’s not what you’re here for. How about this game? It was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish. The Spurs had their typical slow start and had to fight their way back into the game in the second quarter, and like always, did they ever. Holy coyote what a quarter!

I especially liked how they finished it. They had several clutch plays. Keldon Johnson had a play where, in his typical always hustling fashion, he saved a rebound off of Jaylen Brown to give the Spurs another possession. Then with just seconds remaining Patty Mills stole and inbound pass and drove for a layup, immediately after that Keldon poked the next inbound pass away right to Lonnie Walker IV for another basket at the buzzer, and the Spurs led at halftime by 14 points.

The 3rd quarter was a different story though. After playing fairly even for the first 6 minutes the Celtics went on a huge run to not only get back in the game, but they took an 84-82 lead going into the 4th quarter. It would have been so easy for the Spurs to just pack it in and admit that they were simply up against better competition. They didn’t. They stepped up to the challenge and made the necessary clutch plays to come out on top.

Clutch plays

  • Keldon Johnson tied the game up at 101 with a huge dunk. Not only did he tie the game up, he did it over both of the Celtics best players. He caught the ball at the 3-point line, drove to the elbow and crossed over Jaylen Brown. Then he exploded to the hoop and ferociously threw down a dunk. On the replay you could see Jayson Tatum kind of enter the play then cringe away not wanting to get dunked on. You love to see it.
  • The Celtics Jaylen Brown tried to answer with a dunk of his own, but Jakob Poeltl didn’t shy away and went in for a block, forcing a miss. I don’t think he blocked it, but he at least got in the way.
  • DeMar DeRozan came up big on two possessions in a row. First he got fouled and hit both his free throws. Not flashy, but still important. Then with 27 seconds left he hit a jumper from the right elbow in Tristan Thompson’s face. He even gave him a little love tap afterwards.
  • Dejounte Murray had the play of the game in my opinion. Kemba Walker tried to take him off the dribble, but Murray hit him with the Dejounte special and stole the ball from him and dunked it on the other end.
  • After a bogus foul on Jakob Poeltl that lead to a Jayson Tatum 3-point play DeRozan came through again. He caught the inbound pass on the sideline, and as he was falling out of bounds he found Rudy Gay, who was then fouled. If DeRozan would have let himself fall out of bounds the Spurs would have only been up 1 and the Celtics would have the ball with 8.6 seconds left. Instead, Gay hit both of his free throws and the Celtics needed a 3 to tie. They missed and the Spurs won.

Like all Spurs games this was a team effort. They had 6 players score in double figures and 2 players that grabbed 10 rebounds, almost 3 (Poeltl had 9). I like that almost everyone on the team can do more than 1 thing well. Everybody is so well rounded and almost anyone can step up and have a big game. If they become more consistent they can be a real problem in the Western Conference playoffs and be a matchup that nobody wants a part of. Go Spurs!

Next game

Friday, January 29th vs. Denver Nuggets @7:30pm