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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Knicks

Spurs put together a pretty complete night

This win felt almost routine. Workmanlike. The Spurs just went out there on the floor and took care of business for 48 minutes. It was...bizarre? Not that I’m complaining or anything, it just isn’t really what we’ve come to expect from our youthful brigade this season.

If anything, they’ve sort of developed a loose cannon reputation where anything could happen. No lead, no matter the size, has ever felt safe with this team. It seems like the same unseasoned exuberance that allows them to punch above their weight will just as often drag them back to earth when the time comes to close out a win. We saw it as recently as Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

I kept expecting it to come during this game. Was counting on it, actually. Everything was going a little too swimmingly and I just assumed that at some point the shots would stop falling. The defensive concentration would laps. The extra effort to track down loose balls would wane. Some part of the operation would fail, and our guys would continue along their journey of learning the hard truths about what it takes to play in the NBA.

Instead, everyone just did their jobs. How novel is that? Keldon stepped up after some early foul trouble and went toe to toe with Julius Randle. The defense largely put the clamps down any time the Knicks attempted to make a run. The effort and concentration across the board refused to break and, sure enough, there they were when the whistle blew holding a nice little seven-point win.

Now, I’m not naive enough to sit here and declare that anyone or anything has fully turned a corner here. That’s obviously not how it works. But if you’re trying to take the temperature on our rebuilding project and see how things are progressing, little wins like this are one of those things you want to see. These are the types of games that good teams win all the time because they come in with a game plan and execute it better than the other side. Maybe the Knicks were tired after getting bludgeoned in the face by Luka the other night. Maybe they didn’t have a fully healthy squad available. Who cares? There is always going to be something going on with the other team that is out of the realm of something the Spurs can control. The thing they have to work on this season is focusing on the things they can control.

Effort. Communication. Focus. These are the variables that matter. Talent and experience and all that stuff will come along steadily enough but, even if it does, if the infrastructure for winning isn’t already in place, then it still might be for naught.

This was a good win. A boring win. The kind of boring win that the Spurs used to rack up in the regular season without even batting an eye. With any luck, the Spurs might just be getting back to their old boring selves even sooner than we think.

How exciting is that?

Takeaways:
  • I love alpha dog Keldon Johnson so much. We’re obviously riding a bit of a production roller coaster with him this season as he figures out exactly how to be the best Keldon he can be out there and, you know what? That’s totally fine. We can live with that. This season is about growth and development, and I feel confident that he’s going to find where he’s going. Why do I feel confident? Mostly because KJ does. When it’s working for him, it just radiates through the TV screen and make me want to run through a brick wall. He and Julius Randle basically looked each other up and down last night and in the second half just said, “What if we traded blows back and forth down the stretch and see what happens?” Lovely. I want KJ to do this every night. Find someone on the other team and just go after him like he has a personal vendetta or something. This is the way.
  • Shout out to, um, let me see here, my notes say something about “Offensive Juggernaut Romeo Langford.” That can’t be right, can it? It’s always fun to see a guy like this step up when given the opportunity and Romeo really brought the noise last night. I have no idea how to project the kind of player he might grow into over this process, but I really love getting to see little glimpses of possibilities like this. We know he can be a rock on defense and that will always be useful, but the idea that he might be able to sprinkle in some flashes of offense like this here and there has certainly sparked some curiosity.
  • I follow an inordinate number of Knicks fans on twitter for some reason, and they tweet about the stupid Knicks all the dang time.Because of this I feel like I’m always waist deep in whatever weird drama is going on in Knicksland all the time and it feels absolutely exhausting. Here’s the thing though, I still have no idea if they are any good or not! Just based on the tweets I see on a given Tuesday night they might be the worst team that has ever taken up Dr. Naismith’s beautiful game or they might be getting ready to knock down the door of the Finals as a dark horse contender. I genuinely can’t tell and I refuse to watch a Knicks game unless the Spurs are playing them. Even then...I mean, there were a lot of other ways I could’ve spent my time last night. Sheesh. The Knicks. I hate the Knicks. I maybe don’t even actually hate them, but I certainly hate the idea of them.
WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Are you worried about starting a vendetta against the Knicks here?

- Worried? Shoot, I’m counting on it! You know how hard it is to get any attention in today’s media landscape? Sometimes you simply have to step out on a ledge and declare that you hate something in order to get anyone to stop what they’re doing and look at you.

- Boy, that...that seems like a wildly unhealthy way to approach anything.

- I know, but business is business and the Big Take lobby isn’t going to just sit around and let me keep my bully pulpit here unless I’m driving significant numbers. The best way to do that is to rile up a deranged, irrational fan base and let them come after you.

- So you don’t actually hate the Knicks, you’re just saying that in order to get traffic?

- Well. The Knicks? No. The Knicks are fine. Knicks fans though? They are the soft, yellow underbelly of the NBA! COME AT ME NEW YORK! LET’S SEE WHAT YOU GOT! I’M WALKING HERE!!!

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