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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Hawks

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A blowout win with a little something for everyone.

San Antonio Spurs v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

At what point during this contest did you turn it off? Me? Well, I’m contractually obligated to sit through the entire game so, yes, I spent my Friday evening watching the 3rd unit light a 42 point lead on fire like a gleeful child, but I’m curious about those of you who didn’t have to stick with this one. Did you jump out when they were up 40 at the beginning of the 4th or 30 at halftime? Maybe you saw two middle of the road NBA teams on the schedule and decided to skip it altogether. Maybe you’re living in the middle of a global pandemic with nothing better to do, so you felt like now was as good a time as any to get a look at Quinndary Weatherspoon. As you can imagine, this game had a lot of downtime, so I spent a lot of it thinking about you.

If you are an extremely results-oriented type of fan, this game was probably a soothing balm for your troubled soul. The Spurs haven’t really provided you with too many cake walks this season, so the idea of a nice, relaxed little romp through Georgia is probably just what the doctored ordered coming off a frustrating double header with Golden State. Have you ever done the move where you get so pre-embarrassed at the very thought of losing a particular game that you can’t even bear to watch it? You tell yourself, “if they are going to win, great, that’s what they’re supposed to do, but if they lose to the freakin’ Hawks I’m going to quit the sport altogether so I might as well just stay away and check the score from time to time.” I can’t imagine how much you loved this game. Sweating out the close score in the first and then, bang, the lead just grows and grows every time you refresh it. You can watch the replays later, you just had to make sure they secured the bag first. This game was designed in a lab for people like you.

Now, maybe you’re the type of fan who doesn’t live and die by the final score. You’re in it to be entertained. You want to watch your favorite team play your favorite sport and you want it to be exciting. How did this one treat you? On the one hand, watching the boys go out there and forget how to miss shots is pretty great. You’d sign up for that almost every time. DeMar’s getting everything he wants, Patty’s dancing around and drawing four point plays, Jakob Poeltl is literally being perfect...this is the dream! Or is it? I mean, if you’re in the market for exciting, sure, the initial run is pretty great, but after that? Well. Even when you’re team is the one who is up, a blowout is still a blowout. Are you the kind of person who would rather watch a well played, hard fought, close Spurs loss than a big, boring boat race? It’s okay, you can admit it, we’re amongst friends here.

I’m sure there are a whole lot of shades of grey in between those two extremes. In fact, depending on the night I might touch every point on the spectrum. I hate watching the Spurs lose. Hate, hate hate. A close Spurs loss, even in the regular season, sticks with me for days and just gnaws at me. A big Spurs loss puts me in an even worse mood. I feel like a gigantic baby even thinking about it, but something like that Warriors game on Tuesday just put my entire week into a funk. I almost feel betrayed for investing so much of my time and energy into something that can fall on its face so badly. It’s hard to shake off.

But then, on the other hand, I just hate blowouts. They bore me to no end. Like, in theory we’re all following this team, this sport, for entertainment reasons, right? Watching our guys run circles around traffic cones in Hawks jerseys can only hold my attention for so long. The winning is great, but at some point the loss of competitiveness starts to make it feel hollow. You just want to do that thing you can do in video games and simulate to the end and start the next one. There’s no pleasing me. I need the Spurs to win and I need them to do it exactly how I want them to or I’m going to get on this website and start complaining.

I just admitted that a loss annoys me and followed it up with the fact that, well, a win like this sort of annoys me too. What’s wrong with me? I think the regular season starts to play tricks on my mind once we get close to the mid point. We’re past the initial excitement of a season starting, but we’re still a ways off from the games really mattering down the stretch. We’re in no man’s land. We’re gearing up for a run of games here against Eastern Conference teams we don’t really care about and who aren’t particularly good either. There’s probably going have to be a few more blowouts and there’s probably going to be a loss or two in there against, like, the Cavs or someone, that will just drive us all up a wall. It’s going to be **clinches teeth** great.

The reality is that the Spurs need to keep doing what they’re doing and give no attention to jerks like me. San Antonio put on a clinic Friday night (for three quarters) and the truth is that they’ve been steadily getting better as the season trucks along. They aren’t a finished product by any means, but they’re doing everything we could hope for. They’re shoring up the defense. They’re moving the ball, attacking the rim, shooting threes and just, you know, generally looking like a modern NBA offense out there. The kids look good. The vets look good. Really, for the most part, it’s almost all good news. Last night’s game against the Hawks was just one more example of how this team is continuing to come together.

If you needed to turn this one off or even skip it, well, that’s totally fine. There’s some comfort in knowing the Spurs are out there somewhere grinding away. They’re working to get back to the point where they’re playing in the games that matter.

They’ll be there sooner than we think.

Takeaways:

  • The 4th quarter “collapse” was actually sort of thrilling in its own way. It was one of those things where you felt like the team was in a controlled spin. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it but then, also, it never really felt dangerous. It was like we had all of a sudden jumped out of a very safe airplane without a parachute, just to see what would happen because we knew there was a giant cushion, so to speak, to land on down there. After the game, Popovich called the 4th quarter “an embarrassment” but, honestly, giving up a 42-11 run and still winning by double digits is genuinely pretty impressive.
  • I’ve been hanging out in the weeds just waiting for Derrick White to really come back from his injury. I know he’s been back, but the first couple games don’t count, we all know this. Last night though? Well, after last night, yea, I’m thinking he’s back. I almost forgot that the whole point of having a Derrick White around is that we get to have him and Dejounte as our starting backcourt and let them just romp all over people. Aside from a stretch in the first quarter when they were getting calibrated, two put Trae Young in a bag and kept him in a corner every time they were on the floor together. Were the Spurs bad at defense early in the season, or were they just missing a key part of their best defensive lineup? We’re going to find out.
  • Earlier I mentioned that Jakob Poeltl was literally perfect last night and I just want to say, once again, with added emphasis, Jakob Poeltl was literally perfect last night. He was 7 for 7 from the field. He snagged 12 boards. He swatted 3 shots and affected countless others. I couldn’t ask for anything else from the large Austrian. He’s our sweet, perfect boy and I’m so proud of him. Haters will say that he missed a free throw, but the haters don’t understand that missing a free throw is basically how my dude signs his artwork so we know it’s really him.
  • The new Hawks uniforms are excellent. Their court with the Pac-Man logo is also excellent. It’s almost enough to make me want to watch more Hawks games. Not quite enough, but a heck of an effort all the same.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- So we’re determined that you get annoyed by losses, big and small, as well as wins that that are blowouts. Are there any other types of games that get on your nerves?

- I’m really glad you asked. Yes, there are dozens of them. I hate when we win really low scoring games that are “defensive masterclasses” but really it just means neither team can make a shot.

- Oh, so you hated the 2005 Spurs then?

- Of course I liked the 2005 Spurs, but I was also a teenager. I had terrible opinions on most things at the time. Let’s see. I hate close wins because you spend most of the time stressing about how they’re going to lose. I hate wins where the lead changes hands dozens of times because I feel like my emotions ran a marathon by the end of everything. I hate games where we win by something dumb like 5 points because you can’t really ever relax which means you can’t even fully engage with your team playing well. I hate it when we win by 10 because, let’s be honest, that’s just the poor man’s blowout. I hate it when...

- Sorry, but do you maybe just not like watching basketball?

- No, I love it. Why?