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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Nuggets

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The hits keep coming and they don’t stop coming.

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

This one was always going to be an uphill battle. It’s hard to imagine a worse opponent for the Spurs to face in their current state than the resplendent Denver Nuggets. Fresh off an exciting trade that’s injected new hope and enthusiasm into their already promising campaign, the Nugs are basically on the opposite trajectory of our Spurs. They are manicuring their lawn and we’re next door putting out fires.

The Spurs made us think about it for a little bit there though, didn’t they? The first half, I mean, anyone can hang around with anyone for a half and we’ve been through this little do-si-do enough times to know that you don’t get your hopes up after a hard fought first half. How about that 12-0 run to start the 2nd half though? Did that do anything for you? Did you maybe let your guard down just a little? I hope you didn’t but, then again, I’d find it sort of charming if you did.

The thing is, at some point, the Spurs are going to win a game again. Law of averages and all that. I mean, I suppose they could conceivably rattle off a 20-something game losing streak here to close it down, but even for a team in as rough shape as the Spurs right now that seems unlikely. Someone will have an off night. Someone on our side will have a moment of clarity. It’s going to happen and what’s important to remember is that, when it does, it won’t mean too much. It won’t magically fix all our problems. It won’t change up the course of the season. It won’t indicate that the switch has suddenly been flipped from “Bad” to “Good.” Don’t let a 12-0 run fool you. Don’t let a win fool you. Shoot, don’t let two wins fool you. The Spurs are in a tough place right now and that’s not changing any time soon.

Alright, let’s see if we can sprinkle a little sunshine in here too. What I’m really trying to say is that the wins and losses don’t matter right now. The time for living and dying with each game is not now. We’re not going to be disappointed by ugly losses or losing streaks or...anything really. We’re not going to be disappointed! We are recalibrating our expectations and we are acting accordingly. We’re going to find ways to enjoy watching this team and not the team we think we should have. We’re going to find ways to support them now, in this state, because the only other option is to disengage completely and if that’s on your to do list then you’ve come to the wrong website.

The list of foibles and shortcomings for this team is long and distinguished. Now that we know them, we don’t have to sit around being shocked by them. Instead we can monitor their progress and we can try and be better about seeing the work. Appreciating the work. Acknowledging the work. It’s easy to be a fan when you’re team has an MVP favorite and just traded for a shiny new toy and has all the momentum building out towards another deep run in the playoffs. We should know because we’ve been there.

Now, it’s time to get our hands dirty. We all remember when Pop asked his players to show him some nasty? Well, now’s the time for us to do the same. Let’s get hype about Dejounte Murray becoming an All-NBA point guard. Let’s brag about the fact that we’ve locked down a defensive anchor at center for the next few years. Let’s tell the world we’ve got the best young core in the league and we don’t care who knows it. They’re still trying to figure it out, but when they do everyone else is going to be in trouble.

We don’t have to pretend that everything is fine, but we also don’t have to let that define us. Each game is another opportunity for us to take another swing at the rock and that’s exciting — in and of itself. I don’t know when it’s going to split in two, but I’m sick and tired of being upset every time it doesn’t.

Takeways:

  • Alright. Optimism. I signed us all up for optimism class today so let’s go put our optimism hats on and pan for some gold among the wreckage back there. Apologies for the mixed metaphor but I’m going to need you to cut me some slack while we try on our spiffy “look on the bright side” attitudes.
  • It’s not fully formed yet, but there is no reason not to be getting steadily excited about the future possibilities of a Murray-White backcourt. They are going to absolutely terrorize people. They both have the capability to ruin someone’s night on the defensive end and they’re only just starting to scratch the surface of what they are capable of on offense.
  • Dejounte has spent so long shadowing DeMar that elements of the elder statesmen’s game have started bleeding into what Dejounte does and, while that creates a weird backlog on the current team, I’m certainly not upset about the idea of us having a younger DeMar clone ready to go for the future. It feels crazy, considering where we’ve come from, but his ability to extract points from seemingly impossible positions in traffic continues to astound me. He can get to the rim, he can create space for a little jumper, and he’s this close to being able to drain a pull up three when he wants to. His confidence in taking some shots certainly outstrips his ability to make them sometimes, sure, but DJ has done nothing but prove he has the ability to make progress so I don’t mind him playing for the game he wants versus the game he has right now.
  • I have no idea what kind of offensive weapon Derrick White is going to be and the fact that I can’t really project him onto some other NBA player makes me even more excited. He’s fast and powerful, slick and decisive, and he seems equally capable of playing off the ball as he does taking matters into his own hand. During his extended absence earlier this season, I had somehow forgotten how much I loved watching a chaotic Derrick crash into the lane, draw contact, and magically get one to fall. It’s one of the most exciting plays the Spurs have in their arsenal and I genuinely can’t get enough of it.
  • It was pretty exciting to watch the noble hero Jakob Poeltl try and hold down the fort against a prolific Denver front court. It was always destined to be a losing battle there, but I still enjoyed seeing Jakob do his best to frustrate Nikola Jokic and company as much as he could. Jakob got stretched out of his comfort zone a little bit, to be sure, but he could still hang, Jakob can hang. It might not win us too many games right now, but it definitely will in the future.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Bit of a different vibe this morning. What made you decide to wake up on the other side of the bed this morning?

- Well, I don’t think you decide where to wake up, sometimes destiny just pushes you off the diving board into the optimistic deep end before you’re ready and just sees if you’re ready to swim

- Do you think you are ready to swim in the optimistic waters? There’s a lot of season left and every indication is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

- If it were easy, everyone would do it. But, honestly, a thing I don’t think I’m capable of is just sitting here being miserable for the next few months. Life’s too short to sit around being upset about a basketball team losing games so, you know, what if we just decided not to be upset about it?

- A novel concept.

- I’m a novel guy.