Watching The San Antonio Spurs Is Pure, Unadulterated Joy

Unless you’re a Thunder fan. But for anyone else, there are few things more beautiful than watching the Spurs play basketball right now.

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See that? That’s old man Duncan dunking all over Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Serge Ibaka. And yet, that was one of the least impressive scores the Spurs had all night.

Right now, the Spurs are playing a brand of basketball that looks more like ballet than it does anything the other 29 teams in the NBA have executed this year. San Antonio’s style involves moving the ball with a beautiful speed and fluidity: from Parker to Duncan and from Duncan onward, as need and space requires, until somehow, as though choreographed, one of the Spurs players on the periphery — Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, Tony Parker again, or back around to Duncan — ends up with the rock and half a court’s worth of free space.

Watching the Thunder try and defend yesterday was watching a team get twisted into knots. They seemed helpless, and they became frustrated, and the farther along the game went, the smoother San Antonio’s movement seemed to become. Game two saw the Thunder become petrified by the combination of the Spurs’ virtuoso passing and their own confusion regarding how to stop it. They looked like the victims at the beginning of a slasher flick, before they know who or what the killer is, or have any plan for what they’re going to do about it. At that point, they’re just scared.

As everyone keeps repeating, this series is far from over; it remains to be seen whether a change of scenery, the comfort of Oklahoma City, could be enough to revitalize the incredibly talented but ill-equipped Thunder. (Don’t know what I mean by ill-equipped? Just pay close attention to Kendrick Perkins in game three. If the Spurs are ballerinas, Perkins is the folkloric beast, stomping around in anger and ineptitude.)

But even if OKC can find their heads in the midst of the Spurs’ dance of knives, it seems unlikely that they’ll have enough to stop it. Considering the implications, a Spurs-Heat series has me salivating, with the potential to be one of the most fraught and entertaining Finals of all time. Until then, I’ll just enjoy the Spurs for what they are: something wonderful.

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