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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Warriors

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Dejounte Murray takes a turn in the spotlight.

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

These are the nights where it’s 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 are a real slog and the finish line feels more like the quick whisper of an idea than a real thing. 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 starts to make 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. These are the nights where it’s fun.

I feel like we spend a lot of time trying to quantify whether or not wins matter right now. Of course they matter, but we’re talking about the grand cosmic scheme of things. Does a win here or a loss there matter as much to the Spurs in 2021 versus whether or not they should be making moves to acquire more talent in the future? Should they trade guys? Should they trade for guys? Should they....tank? Who’s to say! I think I would like to see these guys get to the playoffs, but there are times when I feel like it would really benefit everyone long term if we got to dip our toes in the lottery pool one more time. I genuinely don’t know the answer — and I don’t think anybody does.

The way you can tell this was a fun win is that this question didn’t seem particularly important when the final buzzer sounded. A game that close even though the other team has a guy with a jump shot that exists outside of time and space, I mean, getting out of a situation like that with a win just means you happened to guess right in a coin flip. The process of getting the game to that coin flip moment was great though. They didn’t let a bad shooting night submarine the entire effort. They didn’t let the Ghost of Warriors Teams Past scare them into giving up the fight. No, they buckled down on defense, they took advantage of certain situations, and they dragged themselves back into it.

That’s progress! I watched these very same Spurs completely disintegrate against these very same Warriors almost three weeks ago when they simply couldn’t get out of the gate. It felt like the game was over before it started, they lost by 22, and it probably should’ve been more. Last night though ... last night it felt like they were in it. Even though they were down by 14 points in the 2nd quarter, you couldn’t help but think, “hey if we can just string together a few buckets (and Kelly Oubre could just calm down for three seconds) then we’re right there.”

Now, do I want to put a whole bunch of stock in the idea that the Spurs have completely reworked their mental toughness scale over the course of three weeks? 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 passed with flying colors. No one should expect this team to be perfect on any given night and if they do seem perfect than you probably shouldn’t expect it to continue for too long.

This team is full of guys who are still trying to figure it out, but every once in a while we get to see the lightbulb go off like it did for Dejounte Murray Last night and it’s feels like magic. Not “is this your card?” magic, but real magic, the kind you can’t explain that comes from somewhere beyond what we’re capable of imagining. He catches a pass from Derrick with about 18 seconds left and the game slows down. He starts to dribble and loses it, but doesn’t panic even though his right foot slips and puts him off balance. He’s in control. Wiggins is up in his space but it doesn’t matter, he knew he was going to hit this shot from the second he got the ball. Cross to the right, cross to left. Up and in.

Wins and losses are irrelevant. Moments like these are what matter. Moments like these are when it’s fun.

Takeaways:

  • I can’t imagine how bizarre it is to play in this league currently. You’re flying around the country in the middle of a pandemic to go play in giant empty arenas. On any given night, your team might be missing one or three players due to either injury or Covid protocols. You’re not allowed to hug someone after a game in which you just spent 30 minutes literally putting your body all over him. I mean...I don’t know. I’m extremely grateful to have basketball to watch, but every time I sit down to try and draw any conclusions from a game I feel like I almost have to throw all the data out the window because like, what exactly are we even watching here?
  • I would like to go on the record as being a big fan of watching Steph Curry ply his trade. Maybe his antics can get on the nerves, I get that, but the way he plays basketball feels almost inhuman and I can’t look away. It’s even more compelling watching him do it on a team that is as aggressively average as this current Warriors squad. It’s like seeing Adele be the lead singer for a high school jazz trio. I love it. I hope they stay this way forever.
  • The “Spurs are better without LaMarcus” elephant in the room is starting to get harder to ignore. It’s sitting over there in the corner trumpeting it’s horn and spilling all of our guests’ drinks on the carpet that we just had cleaned. I’m at a loss for how to handle it. I love LaMarcus and when I squint really hard I feel like I can still see how he can be an effective member of this team but the numbers are just brutal. How do you handle a situation like that? His trade value is about as much as mine right now and you can’t just, like, fully bench him, can you? The whole thing makes me extremely sweaty.
  • I’m excited for Derrick White to really get back into the swing of things. He showed a few flashes last night, but you can also tell he’s just not quite there yet. It’s ok. He’s ok. We’re ok. I just miss him, you know? We’re so close to seeing everybody healthy and rocking and rolling and I just want to be there already. I keep having this dream of Derrick and Dejounte and Lonnie Walker IV doing elaborate three man weaves on fast breaks and if I don’t get to see it realized soon then I might start to lose it.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- I see you didn’t happen to bring up anything about how the Warriors didn’t have any players over 6’7 on the roster last night. Was that on purpose? Are you ducking the idea that all the Spurs did was beat a team that had one hand tied behind their back?

- Ducking? I would never duck. Now now and not ever. If you ever see me anywhere near a duck you should call the cops. Ducks. Outrageous. Preposterous. In this day and age? How dare you. Next question.

- There was a very fun moment near the end of the game where Draymond Green took an ill-advised three from near the logo that effectively sealed the loss for his team. Any comments?

- It was a good shot. A perfect shot, some might say. A lot of people are focusing on the end result here but I think what they are missing when they do that is that Draymond is a special guy with special talent and when you’re presented with one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted then you have to capture it. You can’t just let it slip. You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better

- No, please, no, I see what you’re doing... it’s fine

- Mom’s Spaghetti.