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What We Learned From the Spurs’ Win Over the Kings

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Resilience was more of a key to winning than just getting hot.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

I’m what some football fans in England banteringly frown upon as an “armchair supporter” — ie. someone who follows the games of his favourite ball clubs not from inside the stadium, but from inside his living room. I’m an armchair supporter by default, though. Because the two teams I support both play overseas from my home in Germany — Liverpool Football Club and the San Antonio Spurs. And though I’ve been to Anfield a couple of times as well as to some away games, I’ve been observing both fan bases from afar (I’ve never been to San Antonio), not only the fan bases of Liverpool and San Antonio, but also those of other clubs or franchises that play in the same league. Liverpool fans are said to be famously robust going through tough times. Some of it is narrative, but Liverpool fans appear to be less subject to sudden mood changes then, dare I say, the average NBA fan.

Then again, this emotional skittishness is pretty much a mirror to how the games are played. Whereas football is often a one-sided affair, the sudden changes of momentum in NBA basketball often feel seismic to the armchair supporter. From ecstasy to anguish and back in a couple of heartbeats.

Sometimes I read through the comments sections of SB Nation blogs dedicated to other NBA franchises. And what I’ve observed is this: we Pounders appear to be a bit more even-keeled than others, less panicky. But lately — to be precise: since the start of the current home stand — there has been a mood change of sorts. Trade ideas are floating around, worries about an indifferent future are voiced. Sometimes I feel we could be just a tad bit more robust. Every season will have its rough patches. We’ll get over it. Just as Keldon will get over that rookie wall he seems to have hit. Resilience is the word. That’s exactly what the good guys showed Wednesday night to keep their rivals for a playoff spot at bay.

Observations

  • You could feel it that the Spurs were on a mission last night. They were out for revenge, they wanted it, and they got what they wanted. It felt like they willed themselves to victory. Even when Gorgui Dieng, whose pickup has been universally praised, got off to the worst possible start as a Spur, they just kept going. That’s the spirit, that’s my understanding of “pounding the rock.”
  • Speaking of Dieng, hopefully his right shoulder sprain won’t keep him out for too long. The mere fact that he’s being talked about as one of the better pickups on the buyout market this season, gets me kind of excited. “Going from LaMarcus to Gorgui Dieng I think was a clear upgrade for them and how they want to play”, former Grizzlies exec John Hollinger said on his podcast with Nate Duncan. Even more so, a healthy Dieng might actually be a necessity for us due to Jakob’s free-throw shooting woes in the face of hack-a-Jak strategies in crunch time.
  • I’m unsure how close either of them is to their ceiling, but I feel a way to improve from the inside would be if Dejounte and Derrick developed better chemistry. Derrick setting Dejounte up for a massive stuff in the first quarter was a good sign, but I don’t think it’s Derrick who’s the roadblock. Maybe I’m overinterpreting things, but the not-so-high-five between the two after Dejounte threw it down didn’t rise to the occasion for me. I loved it when Dejounte had nice things to say about Derrick when the latter was out injured at the beginning of the season, but I somehow can’t shake the feeling DJ isn’t fully happy with his backcourt partner.
  • No such chemistry worries I have about Patty Mills and Rudy Gay. These two guys just make me happy each time I see them taking the court together. It has become an integral part of my experience watching Spurs games. Quite simply, the two give me comfort. And if anyone is truly deserving of the “good guys” moniker, it’s Patty and Rudy. I don’t want to see either of them in anything other than Silver & Black for the rest of their careers.
  • I hope Derrick can shoot his way out of his slump from beyond the arc. If he could make close to 40 percent, that would take the team a long way, and himself maybe to an all-star appearance. But even with him missing so many shots, he’s still valuable. His anticipation is just so uncanny. Sometimes it feels like I can hear him think about the guy who’s guarding him: “Okay, I’ll let you make that mistake, my friend.” Elite game intelligence. Nuff said.