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What we learned from the Spurs win over the Pistons

Spurs make a statement in Detroit

San Antonio Spurs v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

There was a sort of a jovial, gallows-humorish glow around the lead up to this battle of basement dwellers and I really tried my best to laugh along with it all but, if i’m being honest, it stressed me out. The Pistons are down right bad. Historically bad. The kind of bad that rides the knife’s edge between tragedy and comedy in a way that can usher fans like you and me deep into a madness that’s difficult to ever fully recover from. Now, I believe in my heart of hearts that the Spurs have been a different kind of bad this year but, at a certain point, records tell a story. Head to head matchups? Well. Those tell a really specific story and I guess what I’m trying to say here is, all jokes aside, I really didn’t want to lose this game.

So, yea, I feel better now that it’s out of the way. The Spurs rumbled into Detroit with, certainly not a winning streak, but at least a certain amount of form. They’ve played well recently! They’ve played hard and cohesive basketball that has looked noticeably different from herky jerky fits and starts we’ve grown accustomed to around these parts. We’re maybe not quite at the “figured it out” stage of things but I think we’re certainly in a zone where we can slap a “figuring it out” sticker on this whole operation and not be fooling ourselves.

The Spurs team that’s taken the floor recently hasn’t looked like one of the worst teams in the league. They still look young and they still look raw and, sure, it’s a team that is basically functioning as drawn out science experiment, but they don’t look helpless. If anything, it’s a team that has almost looked like it’s playing with one hand tied behind it’s back at times. They’re trying stuff out and they’re giving different guys looks. They are exciting and frustrating in equal measure. They contain multitudes. However, one of the multitudes we can rule out is bad. They are not bad. We’ve seen the face of bad and this is not it. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

This game against the Pistons maybe wasn’t the hardest test in the world, but it was still a certain kind of test. It was a chance to prove to themselves that they belong in a different category. They had to go out there and not play down to the competition. They had to bring the same intensity level to the Pistons without Cade Cunningham that they did to a nationally televised game against Giannis and the Bucks. That’s a little thing, but it’s an important one. If you want to be good, you almost have to believe that you’re good first.

We probably won’t look back on this game in the future. It’ll fade into history books as just another Wednesday night regular season game between two teams outside the playoff picture. People will see the stat sheet and be like, “one team had Victor Wembanyama and the other one didn’t, why are we looking at this?” That’s fine. This game wasn’t important or intriguing. It never should’ve been in the first place.

Imaging being worried about something like this? Ha. Couldn’t be me.

Takeaways:

  • It’s so cool the Vic was able to swoop into this game and grab a triple double while on a minutes restriction. What an incredible flex. I truly believe that the Spurs organization is almost trying to put him in a bunch of weird scenarios this year just to see how he reacts to them. What does he look like with out a Point Guard? What does he look like during a massive losing streak? What if he can only play half the game? What if he plays Point Guard? What if we make him only shoot left handed? What if we tried to see how many points he can score only on dunks? At this point I think they should just follow their muse, they’ve only got so much more of this season left to play with before we all start getting getting nutty about needing to win again. Tell him he’s not allowed to shoot a three until he records 10 blocks. Tell him he has to nutmeg guys on pick and rolls. Tell him the Coyote is starting at center.
  • That play in the first quarter where Wemby wound up like a quarter back and hit Jeremy on the outlet with a full court pass? That was obviously very cool. That being said, I feel like Jeremy sort of blew the finish! Like, he made the dunk, two points for the Spurs, yay. But it was such lame dunk! It’s like he was shocked at the velocity of the pass and could just barely manage to wrap his head around getting it in the hoop. I know I’m being greedy, but I just wanted something a little more definitive from the end of that one. (I’m posting the highlight below and, yes, I’m aware of how ironic it is that the Spurs Twitter account decided to caption it with “JEREMY THROWS IT DOWN.”)
  • I don’t think I’ve talked about it very much about it this season because there’s obviously been a lot more going on, but I still think a really underrated thing we get to watch is Keldon Johnson barreling in to the paint and bodying up a defender before finishing off the glass. It’s extremely satisfying and it makes me smile every time he does it. Maybe I sort of lost touch with it because that was basically the only highlight we got to see during any of the games last season but it’s nice to check in with an old friend every once in a while.
  • The Pistons announcers call Bojan Bogdanović “bogey” any time he touches the ball. I don’t know why you need to know that but I was watching the Detroit feed and it just kept cracking me up hearing them go “aaaaaaand bogey can’t get the three to fall.” It ‘s pretty charming! They’re trying to have fun out there, bless them.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Would you have freaked out if the Spurs had lost this game?

- Externally? No. I would’ve logged on here and written a very measured, thoughtful piece about the importance of patience and thinking about development on macro scale. I would’ve been kind. I would’ve been beautiful. People would sing songs about the levels of magnanimity shown by the words I put together.

- Wow. I’m sorry I didn’t get to read that one.

- Yea, it would’ve blown you away. Likely would’ve rearranged the entire way you think about athletic competitions and, frankly, the human condition.

- So that’s externally, what about internally?

- The levels of rage roiling inside my body would’ve been able to power a starship to Mars.