Season 50, Game 82
San Antonio 97, Utah 101
61-21, 2nd in the West

Intellectually I understand that these last 3 games didn’t matter. Intellectually I can rationalize the three losses away, explain how we pulled our starters in the fourth, and didn’t go for the wins. The rhythm was more important than anything else. Keep the team sharp and focused without overextending them.

This is all intellectually sound. But I don’t watch the games intellectually. I watch them emotionally. And my feelings are hurt.

Losing 3 games in a row sucks. Watching the team play poorly sucks. Falling short in the clutch in back-to-back games sucks.

Again, we can return to the erudite and well reasoned to explain that the final 10 games of the season have as much predictive ability on a team’s future success as the first 10 games do. We can even point to the Spurs recent past, when they surged into the 2012 playoffs, only to flame out in 4 ill-fated games against the Thunder. In 2014, they kind of cruised into the playoffs and rolled to a championship.

But then I’ll just fall back to: but it feels bad. I don’t like what I see. The offense seems a bit stuck in the mud. No player appears to be peaking, and many appear to be slumping a bit. How long can you play without an edge before that becomes the normal? How easy is it to snap back into ‘Playoff mode’? Can a sense of urgency just magically return?

It’s been a wonderful regular season with a slightly disappointing ending. Perhaps I just selfishly wanted the team to get to 63-65 wins, instead of stalling out at 61. Maybe I wanted this because I know the playoffs are almost certainly a fool’s errand, with the near-full strength Warriors looming, casting a giant shadow over the entirety of the NBA.

Maybe I wanted those extra wins because I worry that the Spurs will once again disappoint in the playoffs, failing to get to the Western Conference Finals yet again. Maybe, deep deep down, I worry that this is what the Spurs have become: a team that has mastered the regular season, but have no extra gear for the Playoffs. Perhaps I’m stressed because the games really matter now, and I don’t know if the Spurs are up to the task.

We can worry about that later. For now we can take a broad view and marvel that the Spurs once again won 60 games, finished with the second best record in the league, and enter the Playoffs healthy and in good position to advance. The three teams that beat them to close the season all reside in the other half of the bracket, a side of the bracket featuring the Boogey Man of the NBA, so the odds of us having to play any of these teams again is essentially nil.

Feelings aside, there’s plenty to be optimistic about, intellectually.

The Spurs open the first round of the playoffs Saturday night against the Grizzlies.

Go Spurs Go.