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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Clippers

San Antonio notches a rare blowout win.

San Antonio Spurs v LA Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

As is now becoming standard procedure, the Spurs followed up a pretty embarrassing loss by waltzing into a difficult matchup and snagging an impressive victory. What gives? All of us are out here trying to pin down exactly what kind of team this is and they seem intent on tossing out conflicting data points to throw us off the scent. From where I’m sitting, it seems obvious that the Spurs should just commit to the whole “we might be pretty good” thing and then go from there. Simple enough, don’t you think?

The Sacramento affair on Saturday was so frustrating that it was the main thing I thought about as the Spurs began to run away with Monday night’s game in Los Angeles. It made me so angry that they had the gall to play this well after laying an absolute egg against a shorthanded Kings team that had no business hanging with them. Like, if you’re going to play that bad then you better actually be bad because otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time. This is a team that’s good enough to be mad at which, if we’re being honest, is not exactly a place I thought we’d get to this season.

A thing I never appreciated enough when it was happening during the prime Tim Duncan era was that those teams rarely seemed to take a night off. Every once in a while, sure, there was a slip up, but for the most part they were locked in no matter who they faced off against. A random Tuesday in Milwaukee? Locked in. A primetime match up with the Lakers? Locked in. A lazy matinee game during a road trip? All the way locked in. You became numb to it in the moment but, in hindsight, the overall consistency of those teams throughout each and every regular season is arguably one of the most impressive things they ever did.

Consistency. Consistency, consistency, consistency. That’s the next step for this group. I think we all know it and, frankly, I think everyone on the team knows it too. Playing up or down to their competition is a funny quirk for a game or two, but I don’t think anyone in the organization has designs on being funny or quirky. They want to go places. They want to be taken seriously. In order to do that they need to make games like this one against the Clippers their calling card. They need to have that kind of effort and intensity night after night. Until then, a win like this is just a novelty.

It’s no fun to spend so much time after a win like this focusing on how they need to keep getting better, but I think it’s important. A few guys on the team have talked about getting complacent after some of their hard fought victories and how that simply can’t happen anymore. The margin for error is too thin. This team needs to play hungry. It needs to be a chore to have to step on the court with these Spurs. When they attack opponents like they did last night, they’re going to beat an awful lot of teams that have more “star power.”

What if the way to get there is to forget about this win as soon as the buzzer sounds? The next game is the most important one. Always. Go beat the Lakers. Then go beat the Pistons. Then the Jazz and the Heat and the Grizzlies. Go rattle off a six game win streak to close out the year and let the whole league know that they’re not coming for the Play-in Tournament, but for home court in the first round. Be the team that nobody wants to play.

This team is good. And maybe they can be better.

Takeaways:

  • Just want to say, quickly, that I hope everyone is safe and well out there as COVID issues seem to be flaring up again. Basketball is, obviously, way down on the list of important things happening at the moment but I’m always grateful to have something silly to get worked up about for a few hours and I hope coming on this website and being silly with us is as pleasant of a distraction for you as it is for me.
  • A few games ago, I lamented the fact that the Spurs weren’t really built to play the same kind of “get up and go” style that the Hornets so effectively deployed against them. I think that take might have been wrong and I’ve been trying to put my finger on exactly why ever since I wrote it. The thing the Hornets do that the Spurs don’t is simply bomb it from beyond the arc and, while I would move heaven and earth for the Spurs to magically morph into an elite three point shooting team, that's not changing any time soon. However! Pace is not the Spurs’ issue. They do, in fact, “get up and go” quite a bit. Especially when they are rebounding as well as they were against the Clips. Dejounte obviously, but really all of the guys on the court get the ball and start playing downhill almost immediately. It’s actually kind of thrilling and, you know, I think I maybe don’t appreciate that enough. Long live the Downhill Spurs.
  • I’m sure that, by now, you’ve heard it. The whisper. It’s rumbling out of the deepest depths of the canyons and winding its way through the streets of our cities. It’s floating across the oceans and tumbling down the hills. It’s that soft voice off in the distance that’s steadily growing into a roar. What’s it saying? You lean in closer. Could it be? Could it possible be?
“Dejounte Murray is going to be an All-Star.”

“Dejounte Murray is going to be an All-Star.”

“Dejounte Murray is going to be an All-Star.”

“Dejounte Murray is going to be an All-Star.”

“Dejounte Murray is going to be an All-Star.”


WWL Post Game Press Conference

- I don’t think I’ve ever heard you walk back a take before. Isn’t that like against your code or something?

- It actually is. I’m not exactly sure how The Council is going to respond to this, but, I’m hopeful that the spirit in which it was taken back is taken under consideration. Likely looking at a slap on the wrist here. Maybe a two or three game ban. We’ll see.

- Can you tell me anything else about The Council? Who’s on it? How many people are involved What’s their larger purpose?

- My guy, are you trying to get me permanently kicked out of the league? I’m in enough trouble as it is. I can’t go giving away state secrets like that.

- State secrets? Are they affiliated with the government or is this some kind of illuminati thing?

- Illuminati? That’s ridiculous. No it’s nothing so simple that it could be encapsulated by such an overwrought and overused catch-all term like “The Illuminati.” What even is The Illuminati anyway?

- It says on Wikipedia that the Illuminati was a secret society whose “goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power.”

- Oh. Well then, yea, that’s exactly what this is. Only, you know, for sports takes.