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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Cavs

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A miserable homestand ends on a low note.

Cleveland Cavaliers v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

This season has curdled into something truly putrid over the past three weeks. It’s almost unrecognizable from whatever we we’re working on before the All-Star break. Any playoff aspirations are on life support. Any feel-good stories are on hold. Anything remotely resembling the fun, exciting Spurs team we were watching has crumbled in front of our eyes at a pace that would be remarkable if it weren’t so busy being upsetting.

I sat there and watched this team sleep walk it’s way through a routine loss on Tuesday night and it was this close to eliciting zero response from me. I almost felt numb to the fact that the Spurs were steadily bleeding out in front of me and, if anything, I just felt bored by it. I wanted to flip over to baseball or Law & Order or one of those weird shopping channels or literally anything else. Watching this game felt like being force-fed dry wheat toast. The degree to which I wanted to check out completely cannot be overstated.

In light of this, I want to try a little experiment where I see if being angry about it does anything. Anger isn’t necessarily the most ideal emotion we want to run with, but it’s certainly preferable to apathy. We’re watching what could have been a great season slowly die on the operating table. It’s awful, it’s a waste, and we shouldn’t have to stand by and act like what’s happening doesn’t make us want bang our heads against a wall. It’s not like we’re not some sacred order of basketball monks out here trying to achieve enlightenment.

I obviously want to acknowledge the timeline the Spurs are on from a developmental standpoint and be mindful of the fact that in a grand, cosmic sense of things everything is probably right where it should be. But if we’re going to do that, then it seems just as fair to acknowledge the reality that a few short weeks ago the Spurs were nestled up there in the 4th spot of the playoff standings. I didn’t dream that up, it happened. This team was good. It was hanging with some of the best teams in the league and there was almost no reason to think what they were doing wasn’t sustainable.

Injuries haven’t helped. A brutal schedule hasn’t helped. The overwhelming, unrelenting existential weight of the past year or so probably hasn’t helped. I just feel tired of making excuses for them. This is not a team that’s tanking. This is a team that, based on pretty much every single personnel decision, is trying to make the playoffs and they are actively failing at that task. I think that’s part of why it feels like there is no peace to be had within the chaos of this free fall. Certain goals have been set and they’re not being met in spectacular fashion.

I wish we were tanking. I would love for the franchise to throw up the white flag and just fully commit to the youths, but they can’t even do that properly. We didn’t trade DeMar. We didn’t trade Patty and Rudy. I know there were sound reasons for those decisions, but if we’re going to commit to having them around then we have to win games. I love those dudes to death, but watch Rudy and Patty get 24 minutes of playing time in a double digit loss is just an exercise in futility. It serves no purpose other than to light valuable NBA minutes on fire.

The season isn’t dead, I guess. Conceivably things could turn back around just as quickly as they’ve gone awry and the Spurs could get back in the mix and I could feel embarrassed about getting worked up over nothing. There’s 24 games left. Anything could happen. For the first time in a while though, I just don’t feel optimistic about it. The schedule isn’t going to magically get easier. The tired legs aren’t going to magically get rejuvenated. The Spurs best chance to make up some ground down the stretch was the extended homestand that they just took all our lunch money and shoved us in a locker.

Nothing about how this season finishes is going to change the overall direction of the franchise, nor will it change my personal optimism for where it’s headed. But watching a once promising campaign slowly circle the drain is a pretty miserable experience, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it.

You can try to understand why it’s happening, but you certainly don’t have to like it.

Takeaways:

  • At least the old guys got to take the 4th quarter off? That’s something.
  • A fun aspect of the Spurs complete disaster on the defensive end is that it gets pretty difficult to tell exactly what the issue is. You can’t really pinpoint one thing they’re are doing especially poorly, it’s all just a big, ugly morass of missed assignments, slow rotations, and a general lack of any kind of plan to stop someone who is now clearly the best player in the league, Darius Garland. It’s just a full nightmare out there right now.
  • Hey, the offense was also bad! Stands to reason. If you’re going to serve up a turkey you might as well commit to the bit. There’s a distinct feeling of being “out of ideas” on that end. Everything feels stale, especially with Dejounte Murray out of the lineup. With him gone, that leaves DeMar as the only real avenue we have to create and when everything is running out of a single point, well, you guessed it, it’s pretty easy for your opponent to lock in around that and shut everything down. It’d be really nice if we were one of those teams that could just chuck it from three and hope for the best when we’re having a bad day. It feels like the equivalent of being able to throw a frozen pizza in the oven when you’re too tired to cook.
  • I understand why Dejounte Murray probably needed to take a rest day considering he’s been carrying this team on his back through the mud for the past few games, but boy I hope he doesn’t have to do that very often. The Spurs really miss him when he’s out there and, more importantly, I really miss him when he’s out there. It’s like no one ever thinks about me when they are making these decisions.
  • While we’re on the subject of missing things, I’d like for Lonnie Walker to go ahead and come back please. Throwing a guy like Lonnie back in the mix sure seems like it would be helpful for a team that seems to be consistently lacking energy.
  • The Fiesta uniforms remain undefeated in my heart and I sort of think we shouldn’t be allowed to wear them again until we’ve sorted this whole mess out. Fiesta is earned, not given.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- So you’re experimenting with anger, hows that going for you?

- It’s not my favorite way to get my morning going but, you know, we’re making the best with what we’ve got.

- This is now the 6th straight loss you’ve had to write about in a row, is there anything you think you could be doing to change things?

- Well, you know, like I said I think that being angry about anything and everything, regardless of whether or not it’s rational, will be a nice change of pace for everyone. Optimism is great, but at a certain point people sort of no longer enjoy being told it’s just a little rain when it’s become obvious that your upstairs neighbor is dumping garbage water on you.

- Have you considered that maybe you’re cursed?

- Trust me, if the Spurs keep losing at this pace then you can expect this space to devolve into a truly wild level of conspiratorial nonsense. The occult. Ancient mysteries. Secret alien technology. It’s basically going to be an Indiana Jones movie down the stretch here.