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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Blazers

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After a brief respite, the Spurs are back to their losing ways.

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

I’m not sure what there is to say. If anyone is expecting something else from the Spurs at this point then, while I admire your confidence, I must also respectfully ask you: Why? I’ve preached optimism before and I’m sure I’ll do it again, but if you’re going to have a bad basketball team you might as well luxuriate in the pain and really sink into the party aspect of the phrase “pity party.”

This has been a grueling stretch of basketball by almost every metric. Six losses out of the last seven games. Six! Out of seven! It’s almost impressive, right? Why, they blew that massive lead in Boston, of course, and then there was the heartbreaking OT loss to Philly, and then they cooked up successive blowouts in Utah just to show us that they could. The win in Sacramento on Friday turned out to be a head fake throwing us off the scent before coming right back with a classic double digit defeat on a SEGABAGA.

You know that movie The Producers where two guys are actively trying to stage a production so terrible that it flops and they can keep all the investors’ money, but then the play they make turns out to be a hit and they end up bankrupting themselves in the process? This season is starting to feel a little like that. I don’t care what anyone says, I suspect the Spurs don’t want to be in the playoffs. They don’t need to be in the playoffs. All anyone wanted was to ride the end of this season out in peace and spend the next couple weeks drooling over who we might get to draft in July. That’s it!

Instead, they accidentally stumbled their way into “competing” for a spot in the Play-In tournament. I’m using air quotes there because what this team is doing only rarely qualifies as competing (again, six out of the last seven!). It’s more like we’ve been caught in the slipstream of a much bigger vehicle and are now clumsily tumbling end over end towards a destination we were never even trying to get to in the first place. All these losses should be painless affairs that we’re writing off in the name of a brighter future but, no, now these losses all have “stakes” and might mean something so now these losses all kind of hurt. We never asked for this!

Look, I’m ambivalent about making the Play-In tournament at this point. Honestly, it’s a made up thing with zero prestige than means absolutely nothing to me or anyone else. That being said, The Spurs are in this weird situation where basically the only way they won’t qualify for it is if they lose the rest of their games which, based on their current track record, is not out of the question. Can you imagine? I know we’ve all suffered our fair share of indignities this season, but losing our next five (eleven out of twelve!) would be maybe the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to the franchise? I’ll have to do some digging and see if there's something worse out there but, regardless, it would be an extremely tough hang!

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to dwell on the negative. It’s just that this season has long since passed the point of being sad and pushed right on into the realm of the absurd. These games somehow feel meaningless and consequential at the same time. The stakes are as high as they can be and yet the volume feels like it’s on mute. It shouldn’t be possible, but here we are. The Spurs play another Must-Win game on Monday, unless they lose, in which case they have another Must-Win game on Wednesday. Hooray?

Go ahead and have a little chuckle about all this. The line between tragedy and comedy is pretty thin, but I’m pretty sure laughing is better for your health.

Takeaways:

  • Everyone said that the Spurs’ schedule at the end of the season was going to be hard and, you know what? It has been hard. I don’t know why I’m surprised by this, but I think I’m just conditioned to hearing experts say that something is going to be one way and then you look back on it and think, “oh, actually, it was all very different. Weird.” This thing, though? Well this thing they nailed. Beyond the strength of schedule, which has also been a bear, it feels like this team hasn’t even had a chance to catch its breath since basically february. It’s been a non stop deluge of a games and it’s basically turned our guys into zombies. Fun! Cool!
  • A obvious big thing from last night is how badly the Spurs got outrebounded by the Blazers. This, more than anything else, feels emblematic of just how gassed the team is at this point. I mean, this is basic “hustle 101” stuff and the Spurs can’t quite gear up to win these fights. The situation being what it is, you’d think that every guy on the floor would be hungry and desperate and that the one thing you could count on would be that our guys would make the other team work for every little thing. Instead? Well. Instead they gave up 18 offensive boards and got blown out in the process.
  • Here’s another fun “the Spurs are tired” observation: they can’t make threes anymore. I know this hasn’t been a skill directly in their wheelhouse all year, but they’ve definitely had stretches where it’s been better than this. They only made 4 against Sacramento on Friday and even though they managed to DOUBLE that total on Saturday, they still fell short. Again, I know this isn’t exactly their specialty or anything, but the way in which they’ve really fallen of a cliff in that department feels like another blaring alarm bell alerting us to the face that the gas tank is on empty.
  • The Blazers City Edition uniforms took me on a journey. I didn’t love them at first, but they sort of grew on me as the game went along. The colors don’t look like they should work together but then you hang out with them long enough and it just kind of works. Is it brown or is it grey or is it off-black...I can’t tell but I also can’t stop looking at it! In addition, I think using the font from the Portland sign for the “Oregon” wordmark on the front is just very cool. I’m a sucker for it and I apologize.
  • Let’s all just watch this DeMar dunk a few more times and forget the rest of this game ever happened. Agreed? Agreed.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- If you had to pick one game from the Spurs remaining schedule that you think they’re going to win, which one do you think it will be?

- Oh I think they’re going to win all of them.

- All of them? Really? It’s just that, you sort of went on a whole screed earlier so I’m struggling to figure out where this optimism is coming from.

- Well, look that was then and this is now. I’m a changed man and I just, you know, I like our chances down the stretch. I think maybe the Spurs have been rope-a-doping everyone and they’re just about ready to turn the tables.

- Rope-a-dope, eh? So..Bucks, Nets, Knicks, Suns, and Suns....all of these are going to be wins?

- Without a doubt.