I’m not going to lie: I wanted 50 wins this season.
Spurs fans don’t need it, because they already know; and it’s certainly not in the “Spurs way” to seek any sort of recognition for success or achievement, particularly from the unimportant regular season. But the competitor and the sentimentalist in me wanted that 50th win, because I wanted 13 straight seasons of 50 or more victories, because I wanted the team to finally have some sort of NBA immortality all to themselves. With last night’s victory, the Spurs surpassed the 80s Lakers (and left the current Mavs behind) as the team with the most consecutive 50-win seasons ever.
I know it’s only championships that matter. But I don’t want this team (and, more specifically, the Popovich-Duncan era) to be forgotten. 60 years from now some dynastic team will be working on their 9th 50-win season, and ESPN will show the graphic of longest active streaks, and there the Spurs will be, atop the list. And the reporters will wax nostalgic about the Duncan years, and how underrated the teams were, and how incredible it was that they sustained it for 13 (or perhaps more) years. It’s vanity, I know; but dammit, I wanted it.
(Of course, all Spurs fans know that it should already be up to 15 years, as we hit 50+ wins in Duncan’s first season, then the next year paced out to over 50 wins and won the championships. Of course, the league only played 50 games that year in another strike-shortened season, so we only got 37 wins, and the record is forever forgotten. This is proof as to why I wanted it. We’d already ‘set’ the record, but not officially. But I digress.)
As for the game itself, it was ugly. To say it was like a summer league game might be offensive to summer league games. It was clear that the mandate had come down from on high as to who would get minutes. Leonard and Jackson did not play at all. Danny Green had one stint in the first half then was done, playing only 8 minutes. Ditto for Splitter, who topped out at 7 minutes. Bonner had just 13. Diaw got in 20 minutes of burn, but did not play the entire 4th quarter.
As my colleague Wayne Vore over at The Big Fundamental pointed out, the most interesting thing from the night is probably Blair’s 39 minutes. I was thinking the same thing during the game: does this mean Blair is the odd man out for the playoffs? With Diaw coming on, it sure does seem like it.
Of course, the Warriors couldn’t have tried any harder to not win the game. They started 5 rookies, played only 7 players, and then mysteriously did not play their best player (Klay Thompson, an impressive rookie) the entire 4th quarter. Hey, it was a mutually beneficial situation: we wanted the 50th win, they wanted their 43rd loss. Everybody wins.
We open the playoffs Sunday afternoon (morning here on the West coast) against the Jazz. I’m hoping to get a proper preview up sometime tomorrow evening, but I wanted to leave you with this quick thought, courtesy of David Locke:
Spurs are 38-7 in their last 45 games – they lost three games all year at full strength.
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