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What we learned from the Spurs regular season finale

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A long, strange trip comes to a close

Phoenix Suns v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

It would’ve been nice to close it out with a win, right? I know it didn’t matter and it wouldn’t have changed anything, but losing 10 out of the last 12 games of the season while backing into the pseudo-playoffs isn’t exactly the kind of momentum you’re traditionally looking for. I guess I’m proud of them for sticking to their guns all the way through it though. This team hasn’t ever really figured out a way to fire on all cylinders for more than 30 minutes at a time, so what are the chances of starting now?

I’m glad it’s over. This regular season has felt like a slog to those of us watching along and I’m sure that feeling is only more amplified with the guys in that locker room. The ultra-condensed schedule has been brutal for everyone and it’s been a long time since anyone on the team has played like they’re rested or refreshed. They look like a group of guys who’ve been burning the candle at both ends for so long that they forgot what’s even like be normal anymore. It’s exhausting to watch and I’m sure it’s even harder to live through it.

These final couple games have had a decidedly “last day of school” vibe to them that’s honestly been a little refreshing. Just the lowest stakes imaginable out there. Nice and relaxing. Basically, guys got a workout in and then called it a day. The bigger fish to fry were looming large out there. Watching it almost felt like seeing two people have a conversation where neither person is even remotely talking about the same thing. The Spurs and Suns occupied the same physical space and that’s about it.

So now we move on to the play-in tournament and who knows which version of the Spurs is going to show up for that. Have they been playing possum this whole time? Are they just lying in the weeds and waiting for the opportune moment to come out firing with some brand new scheme they’ve been perfecting behind closed doors? Are the Spurs about to go on an unprecedented run from the 10th seed all the way to the NBA Finals?!?! The chances feel slim but, you know what ... they’d be even slimmer if we’d fallen to the 11th spot. [Editor’s Note: Like non-existant slim? —JRW]

What a weird season. What a weird time. Of course it would all come down to a Winner-Takes-Some death match with the Grizzlies. That makes as much sense as anything else that’s happened this year. Against my better judgement, I find myself a little bit excited about it. I’m hoping that this slight raising of the stakes might be just what the Spurs need to tap into their final reservoirs of adrenaline and maybe vault them into playing like they did against Milwaukee the other night instead of how they played against Phoenix, New York, Brooklyn, Portland, Utah, Philadelphia, Boston and Miami all those other nights.

I know this team is deeply flawed and I know they haven’t really shown us anything that should make us think they can win these next two games to advance to the real playoffs, but if I squint real hard I can sort of see how they’d do it. Everything would need to bounce their way and every single one guy on the team would need to up their level of play by about 12.5% (these are exact, scientific calculations), but it’s not something that’s completely out of the realm of possibility. Hope is a rare and precious gift we give to ourselves and it doesn’t always have to make sense.

With that, we now bid a not-so-fond farewell to the 2020-21 NBA regular season. You were mostly terrible and only sporadically fun, but you were real live sports we got to watch and I can’t help but be grateful that we got to hang out with you at all. We got an up close and personal look at what’s it’s like when you go away last year and it was pretty much the worst. Please don’t ever do that to us again.

Now, let’s go beat the Grizz.

Takeaways:

  • Boy, takeaways from the game. Hm, well. It sure was an NBA game that happened and was recorded as such. No one can ever take that away from any of the participants. So that’s good.
  • I know everyone was playing on restricted minutes anyway, but I sort of wish we had gone all the way and just kept as many people on the bench as possible. Call up some G-Leaguers. Maybe let a couple of hard working bloggers suit up for a couple minutes. Would that have been so hard to do? Our guys can get rested and stay healthy and, more importantly, I can see if that nifty pump fake I’ve been working on in my spare time would work on a real NBA player. After I drained my first few threes, I think they’d have to start biting on it, don’t you?
  • I can’t wait for next season to start for so many reason, but chief among them is that I desperately need to see Keldon Johnson playing in front of a full crowd. That dude gets me so fired up, I can’t imagine how much he would thrive off the energy of a bunch of people in the stadium going nuts every time he throws down a massive dunk and starts howling and flexing like a crazy person out there. It’s going to be electric. His whole game is basically built on a foundation of plays designed to get the people going. We’ve been deprived of this experience for too long and I don’t think the NBA is going to be ready for how awesome Spurs home games are going to be next year.
  • We’re going to close it out with a fun Dejounte Murray dunk because this is the energy we’re going to carry into this week. We’re going to be fast and we’re going to be strong and we’re going to have fun. We’re full of confidence and we have next to no reason for it. It’s the American Dream!

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Are you really feeling confident heading into Wednesday’s matchup in Memphis?

- I can’t help but feel like the Spurs have this one in the bag. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

- It’s the...only...thing that makes sense?

- The universe has a certain balance to it that I can’t help but feel is out of whack. The only way to restore this balance is for the Spurs to go on a run here where they win, I don’t know, 11 or 12 straight games on the jump? Yea, I think that ought to do it.

- So you think that the Spurs need to win 11 straight basketball games in order to restore balance to the universe.

- My dude, it’s not a matter of need. We’re talking about the physical laws of the universe here. An apple doesn’t need to fall from the tree but, like, gravity exists so it sort of has to. You know?

- I..do..know?

- Yea, you do. You’re starting to believe.

- The Spurs are going to win 11 straight.

- 11 or 12. At least.