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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Warriors

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The Spurs fall flat in round two.

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

These are the nights where it’s not fun. See, the thing they don’t tell you about the rebuild before you open the box, is that it’s not always going to be a barrel of laughs. Some nights it all makes sense. You see the machinery working the way it’s supposed to. It’s messy, it’s unpolished, and it’s got a long way to go, but it’s working. The thing you’re building is coming together. Other nights it seems like you’re certainly looking at a finished project, but maybe not the finished project. Then there are nights when it’s a real slog and the finish line feels more like the quick whisper of an idea than a real thing. These are the nights when it’s not fun.

Yesterday, I said that it feels like we spend a lot of time trying to quantify whether or not wins matter right now. This prompted a spirited discussion with a lot people making a lot of great points that really served to reinforce the idea that none of us can decide what the right answer is. A particular question that jumped out to me was, “Why would the mission ever not be to win?” I think this is a fundamentally true statement, but I’m also pretty sure it was meant to be a reason why teams should never try to tank. The thing is, if the “mission” is to win and the definition of winning is a championship, wouldn’t doing everything in our power to secure a generational talent in the lottery be in service of this “mission”? To be clear, I am not advocating that the Spurs tank, I just think it’s disingenuous to write it off completely, even if it’s not something you want this franchise to engage in. We can pretend we don’t remember how we got Tim Duncan, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Again, I genuinely don’t know the answer to this question — and I don’t think anybody does.

The way you can tell this was a bad loss is that this question seemed particularly important when the final buzzer sounded. A game that lopsided, even though the other team didn’t have anyone on their roster over 6’7, and to not be able to land a glove on them over 48 minutes is a pretty dispiriting way to spend your evening. After an okay start, the Spurs simply wilted in the the second half. They let the Warriors get whatever they wanted, their defense was sloppy, and the offense was uninspired.

That’s disappointing! I watched these very same Spurs look completely different against these very same Warriors on Monday when they got down big early. They could’ve given up and just let the game get away from them, but instead they buckled down and found a way to keep themselves in it. Last night though ... last night it never really felt like they had a chance. As soon as the Warriors started to pull away, it was like the life just drained out of everyone. You couldn’t help but think, “hey if we can just string together a few buckets (and Steph Curry could just calm down for three seconds) then we’d still be down by 15.”

Now, do I want to put a whole bunch of stock in the idea that the Spurs have completely lost their mental toughness over the course of 24 hours? No. In fact, if I’ve learned anything in the past three weeks its that I don’t really understand how stocks work so maybe we should just set that aside for a second. This game simply felt like a test for the Spurs and by almost any measure, they overslept their alarm, showed up late, and just starting filling in the multiple choice section randomly. No one should expect this team to be perfect on any given night, but it’s still pretty jarring when the entire vehicle looks like it can’t get out first gear.

This team is full of guys who are still trying to figure it out, but every once in a while they are just going to fall flat on their face, and it’s going to feel like the world is ending. Nothing is working. The young guys are busts. The old guys contracts are suffocating. Pop is too old to be doing this and no one knows how to tell him to leave. It’s all a disaster and nothing will ever be good again. See, blowouts are bad because they give you too much time to think and those thoughts are almost never good. These are the games where you start making rhetorical arguments in favor of tanking like a crazy person, because if you’re going to suffer through a loss like this then it might as well be in service to a higher purpose, right? Right????

When games like this happen, it’s important to really feel all your feelings about it. It’s ok to be annoyed. It’s okay to be disappointed. It’s okay to be mad. It’s also important to take a deep breath. Remember, wins and losses are irrelevant, but the bad moments like these aren’t what matter.

Moments like these are simply when it’s not fun.

Takeaways:

  • Extremely disrespectful of the Spurs to play like this in the Fiesta jerseys. It’s like they have no idea how hard we worked over the years to make this dream a reality. If you’re going to lose by 23 then you might as well do it in some previously undiscovered shade of grey urban camo. Just leave those beautiful Fiesta jerseys out of it. They didn’t sign up for this.
  • Boy, the Spurs just really can’t win on a SEGABABA can they? I suppose that’s understandable, but it still seems insane to me that these games are basically write offs at this point. Like, is there nothing we can try? Different rotations? Different sleep strategies? Different diets? Anything? Pop’s been in the league for a hundred years at this point, you would think this was a puzzle he would relish solving. Maybe this is elaborate performance art he’s doing in protest of the very concept of a SEGABABA. Is that anything? Look, I’m grasping at straws here, this game was awful and it might’ve done permanent damage to my brain.
  • I’m honestly trying to think if there were any players that I wanted to highlight from Tuesday night and it is just a desolate wasteland. Rudy Gay was our top scorer with...17? That can’t be right. 17? Our top scorer? Top? Like, as in...the most? He had the most points? With 17? Really. 17? I mean...who was in second? Trey Lyles with 15? Now I know you’re lying.
  • I suppose congratulations are in order for Rudy. To score 17 points for a team that earlier in the day had clearly broken some ancient amulet, releasing a 1000 year old curse into the locker room that was preventing them from being able to put balls in hoops, well, that’s quite an accomplishment. It’s a good thing the Spurs are heading out on the road for a bit, should give us plenty of time to get the exorcism done.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- At what point did you decide to basically copy/paste your post from yesterday?

- Look, SEGABABAs aren’t just hard on the players. They’re tough on the bloggers too. I mean, we have to come out here and have hot, fresh takes after every game. The people demand it and we want nothing more than to give the people what they want. It’s just, I mean, two nights in a row? Against the same team? That’s a tough ask. I guess, you know, just one of those nights where you have to dig deep and find a way to get your post turned in any way you can.

- Do you feel like the commissioner should do more to make sure teams aren’t playing back to backs like this?

- Yea, I mean, I think the commissioner should do a LOT of things when it comes to keeping our bloggers healthy and happy. Blogs are basically the lifeblood of this league and, you know, if we get too burnt out by all these games then like...what are we even doing out here? If a game happens and we don’t offer a take on it, it’s basically a tree falling in the forrest with no one around to hear it.

- What else do you think Adam Silver should be doing for the bloggers?

- Well, for one, I think he should respond about my repeated requests for a juice bar. I’ve sent him many letters about it and at this point he’s just being rude.