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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Mavericks

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The pendulum finally swings our way.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If this Spurs season was a movie, then this would be the part where everything changes. Right when we had given up hope, all of a sudden, the shots that weren’t falling start to fall and the bounces are all going our way. As soon as that dramatic buzzer beater goes down, the montage music would start and we’d be off to the races. Win after win after win. People are dancing in the stands, the players are smiling and laughing again, and they cut in some clips from the news with an anchor incredulously wondering, “who are these guys and what have they done with the San Antonio Spurs?!?”

It’s beautiful. Who doesn’t love that part of the movie? Sports are dumb and cyclical so it makes sense that all the Spurs would need is a little change in momentum. Forget the stats and the modules. All the fancy numbers in the world can’t tell me anything about why these guys have that special little je ne sais quoi that’s going to lead us back to the promised land. The talent was in their hearts all along. Nobody believed in them. It’s the Spurs against the world!

Look, it’s been a tough couple of weeks in Spursland. Sure, the losing streak was bad, but beyond that everything has sort of felt out of sync since the All-Star break. The season has lacked a clear direction and its purpose is muddled. Are we really trying to win or are we just trying to remain semi-competitive while developing our young players? By all accounts, the answer is “both” and that’s all well and good until you look up after rough stretch of games and realize they’re failing at both of those goals. Maybe it’s the injuries or the schedule or just an exceptional run of bad luck, but at some point it doesn’t matter. They are what they record says they are.

All of which is to say that, well, I don’t know what happens next. The Spurs are not good. At least, they aren’t good enough to really do any of the things they want to do. The pieces they have, many of which are talented, don’t fit very well together. The young guys aren’t ready to carry the load and the old guys aren’t good enough to pick up the slack. The part of my brain that tells me to eat salads and go to bed at a reasonable hour knows all this and won’t shut up about it. It keeps telling me to remember that this win I’m all fired up about was a coin flip that could’ve easily gone the other way. It keeps telling me not to get sucked in by it and that hope leads to disappointment, which leads to fear, which leads to anger, which leads to hate, which leads to suffering. This part of brain has been ripping off Star Wars for years and that’s one of the many reasons I generally tune it out.

The thing is, I know all the logic behind why this win doesn’t change anything and I just don’t care. I want to believe in something again, if only for 24 hours. I want to think that basketball isn’t just ones and zeroes and that a big shot for a big win really can turn things around. I want to imagine that the fun, exciting team we all fell in love with earlier this year has just been lying dormant and that this is the spark that brings it roaring back to life. That narrative might be a cliche and it might be oversimplified and it might be a wildly irrational projection of a reality that just doesn’t exist.

I know all that. You probably know it too. But does it really matter if we just ignore it for a little bit longer? I don’t think so. Again, it’s been a tough couple weeks in Spursland. Shoot, it’s been a tough couple years in general. Let a little joy into your life for a few hours. Send your friends the highlight of Derrick White coming up from behind and swatting Luka Doncic’s layup away. Get a tattoo of Lonnie Walker’s massive dunk over Nicolo Melli. Watch Demar coolly drain that game winning shot and let that euphoria just engulf your whole life force.

This might not be a movie, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

Takeaways:

  • It always feels great to beat the Mavs, doesn’t it? I feel like that’s the mark of a really good rivalry where, like, I just don’t care how good they are or who is on the team or literally anything else that’s going on with anything. When the Spurs play the Mavericks I just want to beat them and I want their fans to have to sit in the stink of a loss and know that it came at the hands the Spurs. It’s unreasonable to feel this way! I’m sure there are some very nice people in their fanbase who are probably great and I would probably like hanging out with them except for the fact that they cheer for a team of big wusses and lesser wimps. It can’t be helped.
  • The Spurs have plenty of pressing issues, but the fact that the bench unit went from being one of the most lethal lineups in the league to getting run out of the gym by pretty much anyone and everyone, is a pretty glaring one. Maybe it’s because Jakob Poeltl is no longer on said bench unit or maybe it’s because Rudy and Patty are very streaky players who happen to have gone cold at the same time. Maybe it’s a lot of things! Regardless, I’m going to go out on a massive limb here and say that having a healthy Lonnie Walker to inject into that bench unit has the potential to help right the ship a little bit.
  • Speaking of brilliant basketball analysis, here is my extremely hot take from last night: THIS DUNK WAS INSANE!
  • I like a great many things about Dejounte Murray’s game, but my current favorite thing to focus on is the way he moves the ball up the court on fast breaks. I don’t know that he’s actually doing anything out of the ordinary, but he’s so long and springy that it feels like he’s almost moving in slow motion even while he’s blowing past defenders. Then, when it’s time to attack the rim and everything seems like it’s closing in on him, he sort of slithers around and through all the traffic before popping out the other side and getting something to fall. It’s really difficult to find the appropriate player comp for someone like DJ because the way he moves around the court just feels wholly unique to me.
  • That buzzer beater was a perfect cap to a near perfect night from DeMar. I will never not find it thrilling to watch him when he gets in the zone like he was on Sunday. He just feels fully locked in and everyone on the team is able to draft off of how easy he makes the game the look out there. It’s easy to decry the propensity for someone like DeMar to play “hero ball” at the end of games, but sometimes I feel like we’re overthinking it. When a situation calls for hero, you call the guy who has been playing like one all night.
  • We here at the Committee to get Jakob Poeltl on 1st Team All-NBA Defense and Also Possibly Elected President are aware of the nasty rumors circulating about Jakob getting dunked on to within an inch of his life by Dorian Finney-Smith in the 3rd quarter of last night’s contest and we would like to, first of all, categorically deny that it ever happened and, second of all, politely ask “how dare you?” and “who do you think you are?” to a number of individuals involved in the matter.

What We Learned Post Game Press Conference

- So I feel like we should talk about getting Jakob Poeltl elected president. Is this something new you’ve been working on?

- I wouldn’t say it’s new, per se, but we’ve doing a lot of work behind the scenes and we are just now starting to go live with a lot of our initiatives.

- Is the 1st team All-NBA Defense a part of the campaign or is it a separate thing?

- I’m glad you asked that. Getting Jakob Poeltl on the 1st Team All-NBA Defense is a goal that walks hand in hand with a great number of things we’re attempting to accomplish. It will help raise awareness for the work Jakob’s been doing in the community and will also serve a a platform for our movement to really take flight.

- Is the committee aware that Jakob Poeltl was born in Austria and is, in fact, an Austrian citizen which would automatically disqualify him from being elected to the office of the President?

- First of all, how dare you? Second of all, who do you think you are?