Season 51, Game 64
San Antonio 100, Memphis 98
37-27, 5th in the West

The Spurs win, hallelujah!

It’s more a sigh of relief than an exultation of joy, though. True to recent form, the Spurs tried their hardest to give this game away in the final minute. Up 9 with 90 seconds left, the Spurs barely won. You and I both watch enough basketball to know just how difficult this feat is.

Luckily, the Grizzlies were in no mood to win this game, as winning is losing for the franchise fighting like hell to get to the bottom of the league.

In summary: the Spurs barely hung on to beat a team that is tanking so hard winning this game would have been a disappointment. Ladies and gentleman, you’re 2018 San Antonio Spurs.

Tony Parker played extremely well, with scoring bursts in the first and fourth quarters to help put this game out of reach. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t play well in his return from injury, clearly still bothered by the tweaked ankle. Pau Gasol hurt his shoulder and Rudy Gay busted his ear drum, as if this team didn’t have enough odd injury woes.

The real issue, though, is the lack of joy. This team used to be so much fun to watch play, and it’s just a slog now. It’s not one thing; it’s everything. Kawhi’s injury; the team’s lack of cohesion and competitiveness, particularly late in games; the boring, plodding offense.

Remember the beautiful game? I wonder if the Spurs do. There offense lacks so much imagination right now, and is so slow to develop and barely creates any advantages or openings. It’s usually one player getting just a slight advantage in isolation and shooting a decent–not good, not great–shot. It doesn’t inspire; it doesn’t awe.

It’s impossible to know the hearts and motivations of people I don’t know and only see through a screen. But it sure does seem like this season has worn on the collective team. The team has always been professional, but they also always exuded a joy, a happiness. Now it just seems so blah.

Maybe this is just my projection of experiencing my first less-than-great season as a fan. Either way, I find it hard to get excited night to night, game to game, when it used to come so easily. I don’t know if Kawhi can fix that, for me or for the team.

After going 1-2 on the most recent homestand, the Spurs now embark on what might be the most difficult 3-game road trip in the league: at Golden State, at Oklahoma City, at Houston. 0-3 is a real possibility. 1-2 should be considered a success.

If the Spurs do go 0-3 over these next three games, I suspect they will find themselves outside of the playoff picture with a real shot at missing the playoffs.

The most important of these games is Saturday night at Oklahoma City, because: a) this is the easiest of the three games, and; b) this is a game against a team in the same morass as the Spurs, so a loss for the Thunder helps just as much as a win for the Spurs.

Here’s hoping there’s still some hope a week from now.

Go Spurs Go.