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What we learned from the Spurs win over the Clippers

“Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Polarity is funny thing.

That is to say, it’s interesting how our collective opinions on various polarities define us as a civilization. Historically speaking, regardless of whatever we might think of ourselves, humanity’s not much for extremes. Most of our governments are variant democracies, our elections are largely determined by the middle portion of the electorate, and most of our population lives in the temperate mid-latitudes.

In spite of this, individually, we have a tendency to engage in at least on extreme or another, be they political, religious, or something as innocuous as whether or not we think the food on our plate should touch. So, I suppose it’s not exactly shocking that our entertainment has a habit of drawing out those same tendencies.

In a way, every basketball season is an exercise in polarity. I guess that just comes with the territory of participating in the longest regular season in professional sports outside of major league baseball. Eighty-two games (and the time in between) leaves a lot of room for a variety of streaks, be they shooting-related, standings-related, or just run-of-the-mill naked-people-related.

It’s funny how all those inevitable highs and lows can eventually blend together though. As sports fans we crave the precipice. Be it greatness or failure, we spectate to share in the kind of volatility that we’ve done our best to banish from the rest of our lives. There’s a sense that it can somehow strengthen or invigorate us, giving us an indirect line to the thrill of victory, and shielding us somewhat from the agony of defeat. I’ve always found it interesting that magnetic fields are at their strongest immediately after switching their polarities.

And yet, it can begin to feel a bit rote whenever those highs and lows become predictable, or worse, when they sustain themselves to a point beyond novelty. Extended winning streaks are always more appreciated than losing ones, of course, but that’s only because winning can be taken for granted; losing can really only be appreciated through the lens of victory.

Thankfully Saturday’s contest resulted in a view through the lens of victory for Spurs fans (after going 1-9 in the last ten games), with seven Spurs scoring in double digits. Certainly, it’s a win that’s unlikely to be taken for granted during a season that has seemed hellbent on forcing the San Antonio Faithful to rework their appreciation for victory from an extended era of seemingly routine exceptionalism.

So, the question becomes what does one do in that space of time between the non-novelty of defeat and the prophesied return to a monotony of victory?

Just live, I guess. Look forward to the times that are neither?

Beats me. I’m still learning.

Takeaways:

  • With Jakob Poeltl out in this one, I was curious to see how Jock Landale would handle the start. In addition to not having seen a lot of time against starting caliber big-men, Landale had been conspicuously cold from deep over the past several contests, a concerning development considering the importance of that long-distance shooting to the team’s current (and future) state. Consider me pleasantly surprised. It’s not that I thought of Lansdale as being incapable, but Ivica Zubac has given San Antonio’s backup bigs fits over that last several seasons. It was Landale who gave Zubac in this game though, proving speedier and shiftier, while pulling him out of position for his Silver and Black compatriots. With Eubanks always vulnerable to certain match-ups, and Thad Young seeing little-to-no court time, it was an incredibly important development. It’ll be interesting to see how Pop utilizes it.
  • Almost equally important was Kieta Bates-Diop”s performance, as Doug McDermott struggled to find his shot. To call the Spurs’ roster thin at power/combo forwards would be understatement, and typically that’s another area that’s been a strength for the Clippers. Even without Paul George and the-forward-who-must-not-be-named, both Marcus Morris and Nicolas Batum were available, and were making the most of McDermott’s defense and Keldon’s Johnson’s relative lack of size. Enter Bates-Diop, whose long-armed (almost slithering) defense made an immediate difference and whose gift for knowing exactly where to be on the offensive end repeatedly bore fruit. It wasn’t that same level of performance for KBD as the one that closed down the Staples Center, but it does serve as another reason to look at possibly retaining Bates-Diop in the future.

Playing You Out – The Theme Song of the Evening:

Tubthumping by Chumbawamba