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What We Learned from the Spurs tying (and then losing in OT to) the Nets

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The Spurs put together a valiant four quarters and a forgettable extra frame.

Brooklyn Nets v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Spurs deserve something for what they did last night and the fact that they get nothing is getting me pretty heated. They had no right to be hanging around in this game. There were multiple points when even I was sighing at the TV and saying, “hey, would you just pack it in so I can switch over to Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and let Guy Fieri try to heal my troubled soul?” They wouldn’t do it though. They kept scratching and clawing and finding a way to hold on. Can you imagine if Dejounte Murray was like a foot further back on that final shot? Pandemonium, Covid-19 style.

The thing to take away from this game and, to be honest, from this entire short-handed stretch, is that the Spurs are trying their best. That might be a take that lacks originality and offers very little insight, but I don’t know how you can watch any of the last three games and come away with something different. I probably don’t need to read out the laundry list of limitations afflicting them at the moment, but suffice to say they aren’t playing with a full deck, so what’s the point of trying to analyze anything else going on right now except for the effort?

These Nets were designed in a lab to drop at least 120 points on anything that breathes, with or without their full component of superstars. That’s literally their whole game plan. They are going to run and gun and shoot and score you into submission and if they happen to play a little defense along the way, well, then you’re really in trouble. Listen to any national media talk about them right now and you’ll just hear a series of basketball experts throwing up their hands and laughing when it comes to analyzing Brooklyn. They are, at best, a B- defensive unit and it really doesn’t matter. Who cares if you allow 110 every night when you can drop 130 while hardly breaking a sweat? They are the next evolutionary step of modern basketball. Maybe defense can still win championships, but good luck guarding this.

I say this about the Nets not because I care about the Nets, but because I want to emphasize, highlight, and underline the degree of difficulty on display last night. In the best of times the Spurs have a decent contingent of dudes to throw at the problem they were facing but, as we’ve discussed, these are not the best of times. Instead of defensive talent, the only thing the Spurs had in their arsenal was effort and, wouldn’t you know it? Effort held their opponents to 108 points in regulation. Effort was about a foot away from being a three instead of a two. Effort was almost enough to escape with a win.

Right now, in lieu of anything else, the effort is what matters and the effort is impressive. The effort is something you can’t teach or scheme for and the effort is going to be what sets this team apart when the clock on this season starts ticking toward zero. I’m proud of how they battled in this one and, frankly, I’m proud of how they’ve battled all year. The best thing you can say about these Spurs is that they had no business thinking they should win this game and, yet, I still feel a little disappointed that they let one slip away.

I know I shouldn’t read too much into a regular season game, especially one as wonky as this one. As much we could feel the absence of our guys, the looming specter of seeing the Nets be this good without Kevin Durant was pretty troubling in it’s own right. Truth be told, I’m not sure what anyone is supposed to do with them once that whole Death Star gets fully operational. Thankfully, we won’t have to face them until the Finals.

We’ll be ready by then.

Takeaways:

  • It’s a shame all the video from that Overtime period was lost in terrible fire. I would’ve like to talk about it and analyze it in this space but, alas, there isn’t any record of it. What a bummer!
  • Maybe you don’t talk a lot of trash about James Harden in your free time, but in my free time I talk a lot of trash about James Harden. As far as I’m concerned, Manu ended his career back in 2017 with that block so I’m always a little surprised to see him even playing anymore. What’s worse, I’m even more surprised to remember that James Harden is actually good. I spend so much time just dogging him in my head, you know? Then he comes out and sort of looks like a guy you might play pickup with at the Y and you’re like, “surely this guy is trash” and no sooner than you finish that thought he’s dropped a triple double on you. It’s infuriating. Anyway, going to go watch that Manu block a few more times.
  • Speaking of surprises, every time they cut to the Nets sideline last night Steve Nash caught me off guard. As soon as I remembered he was the Nets coach I would forget it instantly and then five minutes later they’d cut back to him and I’d be like, “Steve Nash! Whats he doing here?” You think any of the Nets players have this reaction too?
  • Instead of drinking coffee, I might just pull up the replay of this Lonnie Walker pass every morning and get a natural high off the vibes. The super long, cross court, breakaway pass is literally one of my favorite plays in basketball. It’s pure chaos. The entire flow of the game is heading one way and then, in a blink, the dynamic gets completely upturned. Everyone has to shift and adjust and they never can. Watch Lonnie rear back mid-sprint on this one and thread the needle to Dejounte. You don’t attempt a pass like that unless you’re playing with high levels of confidence and the fact that Lonnie is getting back to playing like that is an extremely encouraging sign.
  • No use crying over spilled milk, but I would’ve really liked to see Keldon Johnson and Derrick White get a crack at guarding Harden and Kyrie. I have no idea if it would’ve changed anything about the outcome of the game, I mean, obviously those two have put up big numbers against plenty of guys in this league. I just would’ve liked to see them get a shot. Derrick and Keldon seem like the type of guys who would get pretty excited about a challenge like that, don’t you think?

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- So you’re predicting a Spurs-Nets finals then, yes?

- Yea, look, barring an injury or something I just don’t see anyone else making it out of the East. I know Embiid is having a heck of a season but I don’t know if I think the Sixers can really get it done in the playoffs. Same goes for the Bucks and then like, who else is there? The Heat? The Celtics...The Knicks?? Yea, until I see evidence to the contrary I think the Nets are a no-brainer out there.

- And as far as the West goes...

- Look, before AD got hurt I’d say the Lakers had a shot, but now? I think they’re cooked. The Clippers can’t be trusted. Suns are a year away. Blazer can’t stay healthy. Nuggets spent all their playoff magic last year. Steph alone isn’t enough for the Warriors. Show me a team out of that bunch that can beat the Spurs in a 7 game series? You can’t.

- What about the Jazz?

- I love jazz as much as the next guy, but I’m not sure what it has to do with the Spurs.