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The Playoffs aren't supposed to be easy

The Spurs underwhelmed for the second consecutive game, but the difference this time was that their future Hall of Famers weren't able to bail them out en route to a 21 point loss to the resurgent Mavs.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Things are supposed to start like this.

And then the Spurs  win and we all go home and resume celebrating Fiesta, right? That's what I signed up for anyway. Alright, let's do this.

That's a bad combination and that means you get your butt kicked, and that's what happened tonight.

-Gregg Popovich

Wait, what happened?


Let's panic

Spurs fans are called a lot of things but spoiled is often the most accurate. Four NBA titles and fifteen straight years of 50 plus wins will do that to a person. Then add in sweeps in the first round the last two years, coupled with 10 straight against their first round opponent, and fans start to daydream about opportunities not yet earned.

So when the Spurs struggle for two games in a row to the 8th seeded Mavericks, and lose badly in Game 2, it's natural for Spurs fans to panic. It's an uncomfortable feeling to be in a position that the team fought so hard for all season. 62 wins up in smoke, at least in this series, as Mark Cuban's minions came into the AT&T Center on Wednesday night and snatched home court advantage from the Spurs. Poof. Just like that. It's gone.

Flashes of Z Bo and the Memphis Grizzlies in 2011 and the Thunder sweep in 2012 and oh God no, here we go with the Game Six talk and how these guys have never recovered. Radio hosts across South Texas are googling "talking people off the ledge"  in anticipation of the hand wringing and Armageddon predictions that will take place over the next few days.

And I can't say I necessarily blame everyone for this sudden shortness of breath.

Twenty-four turnovers and 18-29 shooting from the stripe will do that to a fan. The Spurs lost by 21 and were outscored on points off of turnovers by 23, making a fan panic. Tiago Splitter fumbled his way around the paint all night and Danny Green scored all of six points, matching the scoring output of Kawhi Leonard, making a couple of fans panic. Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Calderon will make a fan panic. Freakin' Shawn Marion and Devin effin' Harris making fans panic. IT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE A FAN PANIC SO LET'S PANIC.

But before you do, breathe into this paper bag and consider a few things:

  • Manu Ginobili had 27 points in just under 23 minutes on Wednesday. Yes, he had six turnovers but his aggressiveness and offensive production in the first two games is encouraging. It's good to see extended flashes of the young Argentine Lion that once had his way, nightly.
  • The Spurs shot 50% from beyond the arc.
  • The Spurs can regain home court advantage with a win on Saturday. They set a franchise record with 30 road wins during the season. The Spurs can win on the road.
  • Do you really think they'll have 24 turnovers again in a game in this series?
  • Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are racking up the minutes. Will their legs be there if this series gets to six games?
  • The Mavericks took 30 more shots than the Spurs. 30. More. Shots.
  • Gregg Popovich subtly, but staunchly, defended the performance of his players from the podium in his post-game remarks. If you don't think that sent a message to the team then you don't know the Spurs very well.

It's not supposed to be easy

Look, in a playoff atmosphere where psyches around the league are eggshell fragile, strange things are bound to happen. The Trailblazers, Wizards and the Heat are the only teams left unscathed in what has been a surpising start to the post season. The Rockets and Bulls are in a free fall, OKC looked bad in a loss to Memphis and who knows what's going on in Indiana. So even after what I saw on Wednesday night in South San Antonio, I still wouldn't trade places with any other team in the NBA.

This isn't going to be easy, so stiffen your spines and clear the fog from your minds. Surviving the gauntlet in the West is going to be extremely difficult. The Spurs stumbled in Game 2, and while the path to the promised land may be slightly more treacherous after a bad loss, the path is still there.

So keep breathing San Antonio.