Now that the San Antonio Spurs have finished off an impressive four-game sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies, we're probably going to hear a lot about how the Spurs are a model of consistency — about the workmanlike approach that's underpinned 16 straight postseason trips, five NBA finals appearances in 15 years and four titles; about the renewed commitment to defense that's sparked the Spurs' return to the championship series; about the peerless professionalism embodied by coach Gregg Popovich and his trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
That's all fine, because all of it's real and legitimate. But it's also probably going to make the Spurs sound boring, which has long been the primary criticism of San Antonio's stars and culture, and a dominant public perspective apparently backed up by flagging ratings for a series that opened with an offensive explosion, followed with two overtime affairs and finished with a brilliant performance by Tony Parker. People just don't seem to think the Spurs are fun.
I'm probably not going to change that dominant public perception; Dan Devine is just one man, after all. But these Spurs do fun stuff kind of often, and they showcased that on a handful of occasions on Monday night. To wit:
1. Ginobili's one-touch nutmegging of Tayshaun Prince to hit a cutting Cory Joseph for a layup.
Quick touch, perfect placement, completely in the flow of the moment, right through Prince's legs, whoosh, two points. Manu hasn't been Manu quite so much this postseason, shooting just 38.3 percent from the floor and 32.4 percent from 3-point land en route to his lowest postseason scoring average in a decade, but he still has the vision and audacity to make this pass, which is what makes him one of the most brilliant basketball talents we've ever seen.
2. Kawhi Leonard blowing past Prince, driving baseline and finishing with a big two-handed slam.
Because he spends most of his time spotting up in the corner and locking down on defense, you sometimes forget that Leonard is a really athletic 6-foot-7 dude who can easily beat out-of-control closeouts, elevate and throw down. Luckily, he reminds you. (Well, not luckily for Grizzlies fans, I guess.)
3. Duncan racing out in transition and beating four Grizzlies down the floor to finish a fast break with a dunk.
That's a 37-year-old big man who had played 44 minutes and dominated overtime two nights earlier hitting the turbo to fill the lane and flush because, as much as his game has been defined by bank shots, Timmy likes getting out on the break. Especially when he can run it.
4. Leonard's perfect two-hand overhead inbounds bounce pass to hit Parker on a backdoor cut for a layup.
A backdoor cut freed up by a Duncan screen for a pinpoint soccer-style throw-in on a sideline out-of-bounds play? C'mon, that's just beautiful.
5. Patty Mills tap-dapping Duncan on the bench.
And so is this. If you find the action on the court less than thrilling, just check out the San Antonio sidelines. The Spurs' lead towel waver is just about always doing something ridiculous and eye-catching over there, and he seems like a fun guy to celebrate with ... which is good, because the Spurs have a lot to celebrate right now.