Between the opponent, the state of the team, and — somewhat surprisingly — the venue, the San Antonio Spurs beating the championship contending Milwaukee Bucks was not an outcome that was on the radar of many fans. The team is tired, missing its second-best player, has already secured a losing home record (and a winning road record, strangely enough), and at least a few of those home losses have come via lackluster showings after returning from big road trips, so why would this time be any different?
Well, these are the 2020-21 Spurs, meaning you never know what you’ll get out of them on a night-to-night basis. Their performance against the Bucks was the best that can be expected of them: hitting threes without jacking up too many, relatively solid defense, and pushing the pace in transition. All this led to a franchise record 87-point first half, including 12 threes, which allowed them to cruise through a relatively comfortable second half (after weathering one final push from the Bucks) for the blowout win.
While it wasn’t the career-high 31 points he scored in Milwaukee earlier this season, Lonnie Walker continued his hot streak since returning to the starting unit with 19 points, mostly in the form of using his speed to push the pace in transition and accepting his role as the biggest threat from three in the unit.
Perhaps the most welcome sight of the evening was Patty Mills finally finding his shooting form again amidst an extended slump that dates as far back as March 24 but has been especially brutal since April 16. Hopefully this was enough to get him on a roll again for the final four regular season games and likely playin tournament appearance (which they are any combination of one win or a Pelicans loss away from). The Spurs are a significantly better team when he’s hitting shots, and while he doesn’t have to hit 6-9 every time, he just needs to be a threat.
What makes the Spurs even more dangerous? When both Patty and Rudy Gay are clicking off the bench. When that’s happening, they’re a nearly unstoppable second unit that overwhelms opponents.
@RudyGay pic.twitter.com/tHMm17Dc5O— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) May 11, 2021
RUDY IS ROLLIN!!!— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) May 11, 2021
game-high 15 PTS with 3 from distance! pic.twitter.com/7xxEiG7z2o
Finally, the Spurs showed why you should never leave a blowout win early, as Gorgui Dieng got the steal and went coast-to-coast for the Euro-stepping slam, triggering a hilarious reaction from the bench.
.@GorguiDieng coast to coast pic.twitter.com/oGaDVotCrk— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) May 11, 2021
The Spurs are now headed to the Big Apple for a SEGABABA against the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. They’ll even have the extremely rare advantage of being the more rested team against the Nets, who will be coming off a back-to-back of their own, so maybe they can surprise another East contender if they bring the same level energy and shooting form on the road.