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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Wizards

The Spurs stay on course

NBA: Washington Wizards at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs have settled into a nice little groove here as we all coast into the All-Star Break. The defense can’t stop anyone, the offense can’t score enough points, and the wins are few and far between. Nobody seems too down, and yet, nobody seems too fired up about anything either. Everyone seems to be deep inside their mind, concentrating on some far-away happy place in order to numb themselves to the pain of the present. Like I said, we’re in a groove!

It’s not as dramatic as all that. I don’t actually think anyone is out there having an existential crisis or anything. However, it is increasingly weird to watch this game be played with a lack of desperation or urgency. It feels like watching a practice or a developmental scrimmage. There’s no stakes, no imminent danger. Just a bunch of guys going through the motions. Honing their craft. Learning lessons. Moving on to the next. It’s not that it’s bad, necessarily, it’s just weird.

This feels especially apparent if you look at the difference in our offensive and defensive output. Our offense, routinely, doesn’t look half bad. We have guys who can get buckets and they seem to be well drilled in the art of ball movement. They’re athletic and fast and when things are clicking they can really start to fill it up. Obviously, as evidenced by the fact that a semi-competent zone defense seemed to fully stymie the boys last night, the shooting can come and go and it’s nowhere near the elite levels of some teams of this league, but my larger point is that, on the right night, this offense can score points.

The defense is inept. They might as well magically transform into giant traffic cones anytime the ball crosses over onto that end of the floor. It’s almost comical the ways in which they get torn apart night after night after night. They just can’t seem to get it together on that end and that’s...well, that’s fine. I’m sure they work at it, but you can tell that their heart isn’t in it.

An offense can survive on guys going out there and doing their thing. It might not be great, but the points will come. A proper defense needs a full buy in from every single person. They have to be working together, covering for each other, and filling in every single gap. It has to be selfless and it has to have everyone pulling in the same direction. A team like this can’t pull that off. A team like this has too many different directions for too many different players.

I can’t stress enough that I’m not mad about this. Please don’t put in the newspaper that I got mad. It’s just hard to watch sometimes. This team and franchise has broad developmental goals that stretch out over long period of time and the incentive for anyone, players or management, to hunker down and fix the defense at this juncture of the season is minimal. Frankly, it might be counterintuitive.

Some nights it’s easy to settle in, watch the boys, and not get too worked up about anything. You have fun watching a little no stakes basketball, you go to bed, and you never think about that game again. This game was one of the hard ones. This was one of the ones where the reality of what we’re living through felt like a raw, exposed nerve that was impossible to ignore. I felt like I was surrounded by people who wouldn’t stop telling me, “Can you believe the Wizards haven’t won in SA since 1999? How Crazy is that?” and it made me want to throw a drink in their face. It made me angry that we’re this bad. It made me sad that we’re at this point. It made me worried that we’ll never get back to where we were.

I might forget the details of this game, but I’ll never forget this feeling.


  • There’s a chance I’m fully losing my marbles here, but was there a trade deadline one year where the Spurs almost got Kristaps Porzingis? Am I remembering that correctly? I feel like I have this faint memory of a Woj tweet that was like, “Spurs are in the mix” and my mind was pretty blown be cause the Spurs were never in the mix. I spent like 24 hours talking myself into it and then he ended up on the Mavs. Is that right? Still pretty bummed it didn’t work out. I mean, the Mavs went ahead and made that trade and then reeled off back to back to back NBA titles so it must’ve been a good idea.
  • Regardless, it was wild to watch Kristaps come alive in this one. There really was a minute in there where I put aside my extreme dislike of the Knicks because watching him do weird unicorn stuff was genuinely pretty fun. It was nice to see he can kind of, sort of, maybe still get it done when everything aligns. I wish it wasn’t against the Spurs but, alas...
  • You know, how Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock and letting eagles swoop in and eat his liver every single day for the rest of eternity? Well that’s all I can think about watching Jakob Poeltl out there every night trying to play defense for this team. He has such good instincts and he works so hard to put himself in the position to succeed and time after time down the floor he winds up in a calamity of broken assignments and miscommunications. It’s like he’s walking down a hall and people keep stacking more and more boxes into his arms and before he can get to the other side he inevitably falls and people get all mad at Jakob for dropping the boxes. Makes you wonder what he did to get Zeus so angry.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Zeus really was wild for that Prometheus punishment though.

- I mean, Zeus was pretty wild for most things as far as I can tell, but yea, the eagles perpetually eating your liver is pretty, uh, inventive.

- Why the liver? Why not like, the heart or the kidney or the bladder know, why not all the organs for that matter?

- Exactly, like, if Zeus could make the liver regenerate after the eagles take it, he could presumably make the other organs grow back too. Is the liver particularly painful to get eaten?

- Impossible to say. Do you think he had to train the eagles to perform this task?

- Yea, I mean, at some point the eagles have to maybe assume that they are also being punished for eternity right? Like, it starts out great, “Yo, free liver!” but then it has to become a burden over time. You start to dread 3:00 when it’s time to head Caucasus Mountains and eat this guy’s liver. Every single day. Always the liver. Always the same guy. That’s a nightmare.

- This has been a really good analysis of Jakob Poeltl, I think.

- Oh for sure, this is what the people came for.