Spurs Destroy Cavs: What It Means

When Kawhi scored 41 against LeBron and company in Cleveland, we rejoiced. It was Dejounte Murray’s coming-out party, it showed Kawhi could ball on a relatively big stage against HOF-level competition (we knew this in the Finals, but still).

After this game we have a different kind of narrative. The Cavs are reeling if still talented. They are not the team that beat the historically great Warriors in the Finals last season. Instead they are a collection of parts that have more in common with the LeBron Returns: Year 1 squad that was trying to figure things out.

The through line in both is this: both of those teams went to the Finals and played well. That the Spurs beat this team last night means very little other than they took care of business against a struggling team. The things we are looking for at this stage of the game is incremental improvement and ‘tightening up’ as Pop says.

In the last ten, the Spurs have dropped three included one each to the Blazers and Grizzlies, two surging teams that are playing much better since the break. Also, the Thunder on a back-to-back in OKC.

Memphis was dealt a measure of revenge, the Thunder and the Blazers are on the schedule and so they too, will get a dose of the Klaw. The Spurs are what they will be in the playoffs. Kawhi is going to be relied upon to create and score upwards of 28+ a night. Pau is going to need to hit the threes he has been knocking down freely, and Patty et al will need to provide the punch off the bench.

It is setting up amazingly well. The Warriors are also adjusting to life without Durant, Steph is getting over his week long shooting slump but might have to reintegrate Kevin Durant sometime in the crunchiest of cruch times. The Spurs are in perfect position to exploit such a team.

Remember that the Warriors were readjusting to a slightly banged up Steph Curry throughout the playoffs and were exploited by teams that were in their Final Forms: The Cavs, The Thunder.

Also remember the Spurs transitioned from the well-oiled machine to bunny-missing also-rans in part because of that same Potential-Realizing Thunder squad. The post season is extremely long and yet an individual playoff series is relatively short.

Given the choice, I would much rather be in this position: playing well, being healthy than in the Cavs position. Still, that does not mean as much as we would like.

LeBron Throws the Ball off Tim’s Knee: Spurs 7-4

Last we looked the Spurs were 2-3 and still building. Since, they’ve beaten the Clippers and Warriors1 away, which ended an undefeated streak, and ushered in another day in the Kawhi Era. He practically won the game against LA down the stretch, poaching Chris Paul twice late and pouring in 26. He dominated late with his defense against Golden State, also. He made some big baskets and got some big assists. This is the Kawhi Leonard Spurs we are seeing.

His big steals late are worth so much more than big baskets late.

They then made a stop at Staples to beat up on the Lakers. Seeing Kobe struggle was great, as I mentioned on the Gonzo in SA Show. Still it is another reminder of how long ago this was:

many a San Antonian’s heart. It seems that Kobe feels the same way.

A pit stop in Sacramento ended with a loss. The kind that Pop said was probably due to road trip fatigue. In those kinds of games you at least want to be close. They were. Just a well-short Manu three point play to tie it short. I’ll take it.

Thankfully the Sixers front office is taking. They didn’t put up a fight.

That led to tonight’s big showdown with LeBron. The media sorely wants LBJ to think of the Spurs as a rival. I don’t think of him as a Spurs rival. He certainly didn’t break anyone’s heart tonight. That is sort of requisite of being a rival. Or at least maintaining a rivalry.

And so it goes. Spurs look good despite Belinelli sitting out with a hurt groin, Splitter being out with a back injury, and no Patty Mills. He’s at least doing commercials. A 7-4 record is about as good as you can ask for at this point in the season. Memphis showed a bit of mortality, tonight so they look catchable. Maybe because Half-Man Half-Amazing was crying during the intros.

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1. Former Spur Steve Kerr said of the Spurs: “I retired 12 years ago and the three main guys and the coach are still there." [↩](#fnref:p103094039672-1)