Please, I need a shoulder to cry on. Someone hug me. I need someone to wrap their arms around me and whisper into my ear that everything will be okay. I need someone to wipe my tears away. There are no reasons for me to smile. My umbrella blew away and a rain cloud is perpetually following me around. Depression has set in.
**NOTE: I'm not suicidal; I'm simply a Dallas Mavericks fans. And tonight, I'm hurting.
I realize that a seven-game series does not really get started until a road team wins, and I've subscribed to that theory for years. But by that logic this year, the first round playoff series between the Mavericks and Hornets appears to be over before it ever really gets started.
The Mavericks 103-127 loss in New Orleans tonight hurt to watch. I love the Mavericks. I've been going to games and cheering for this team when they won 11 and 13 games in consecutive seasons. But these aren't the 1990s Dallas Mavericks. There are expectations - not even championship expectations at this point - that are not only not being met, but the team isn't coming close to them.
As I said, I love the Mavericks; I'll be at Game 3 wearing my blue and cheering my ass off for this team until the final buzzer. But watching the game tonight, I couldn't help but think back to the 2006 NBA Finals and wonder if that was it. Was that the window of opportunity for the Dallas Mavericks? Has it officially closed? Will they ever get back?
A trip to the finals is not guaranteed for any franchise in any sport, and it's impossible to tell whenever a team will get back.
Since the 2006 Finals, I've tried to be positive. I haven't thought Avery Johnson needed to be replaced as head coach. I haven't gone around and said Dirk isn't the answer. And it's only now - now that the Mavericks are down 0-2 after a pair of very discouraging and disappointing games in New Orleans - that the doubt has crept in.
There are no more officials to blame for mystery fouls of Dwayne Wade (which, by the way, two of the more crucial calls in the 2006 Finals were made by former NBA referee Tim Donoghy, who is now in trouble for fixing games). There is no more excuse of "they were tired after a 67-win season." There are no more excuses.
Tonight the Mavs lost to a better team who wanted it more. A lot more. The Hornets seemed to care. The Mavericks didn't.
When Devean George put of a crap 3-pointer after checking into the game just moments before, I think I died a little bit inside.
Now all of this might be irrelevant after two quick Mavericks wins at the American Airlines Center, once again proving the theory that a seven-game series is not officially underway until a road team wins a game. But the frustration and negative emotion I'm feeling tonight is a direct result of the disappointing performances Dallas has shown in the first two games of the 2008 post season.
I hope they turn it around. I want them to turn it around. And part of me will be shocked if they do turn it around. But as a fan, there is always hope. Sadly, however, hope is just not a strategy that typically works in the playoffs.
Friday night is Game 3 in Dallas. The Mavs can put all this negativity behind them with a win at home in three days. It's easy to do. Just win at home. Protect the American Airlines Center. Defend the home court. If Dallas does that, they can steal moment have a chance to win this series.
The Mavs are the lower-seeded team. The Hornets earned home-court and the right to open at home. They have taken full advantage of home court. If Dallas can do the same, then this series will not be the beginning of the end of the Mavericks as we know them today. That's all it takes. Win at home.
Win at home.
Please, please, Dallas Mavericks, just please win at home.