A letter to Utah Jazz fans after a Game 2 loss in Dallas: Relax. It’s not time to panic.

Dear Utah Jazz fans:

Take a deep breath. Calm down. Pretend you are Martin Lawrence in “Bad Boys II” and say “woosah.” Meditate. Take a hot yoga class. Anything that allows you to step away from the proverbial ledge.

Yes, the Jazz fell to the Dallas Mavericks 110-104 on Monday night in Game 2 of a Western Conference first-round series. Yes, the Mavericks executed the Jazz into submission with a small-ball lineup that turned Maxi Kleber into Larry Bird. And yes, the Jazz had a chance to take a 2-0 series lead but instead return home in a 1-1 tie.

But these things happen. Did anyone think the Mavericks, even without Luka Dončić, were some kind of pushover? Did anyone think Dallas being one of the best teams in the league after January wasn’t a real thing? Did anyone think the Jazz were going to sweep the series? If your answer to any of these questions was yes, that’s just pure folly.

Teams that win 50 games in the NBA are good. And Dallas is a very, very good team. Yes, there might be some PTSD involved, because the Mavericks knocked home 22 3-pointers Monday night, 17 (!) of which were uncontested. But these things happen. A desperate team that has already surrendered home-court advantage. A sold-out crowd at American Airlines Center hopped up on caffeine. An insane shooting game in which the Mavericks got up 47 3s. In a series like this, each game is going to take on a life of its own.

So, step away from Twitter, Jazz fans. The season isn’t over. It’s just getting started. It’s going to be long. It’s going to be hotly contested. It’s probably not going to be easy on anyone. So, the Jazz have to figure out what went wrong and why — and that’s the easy part. The harder part is figuring out how to adjust.

“The good thing is this is Game 2 and not Game 6, where the series is on the line,” Utah center Rudy Gobert said. “We have a lot of time to go to film, see what we did wrong and try and fix it.”

The diagnosis is simple. The Jazz got cooked off the dribble, again and again and again. The dreaded small lineup Utah was going to have to combat at some point this series? It came pretty early. And the formula was simple: Either Jalen Brunson, who scored a career-high 41 points, or Spencer Dinwiddie isolated at the top of the key. Four Mavericks players — Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, either Brunson or Dinwiddie, and Kleber — surrounding the 3-point line. The main ballhandler got by his man, drew Gobert into the paint on his help side and kicked out for an open 3.

The final five minutes, which is when the Jazz lost the game, featured this formula on every possession. Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Royce O’Neale, Jordan Clarkson: Nobody could stay at front of the dribble when it mattered the most. Only Danuel House Jr. could, and he’s probably going to have to play heavier minutes as the series progresses.

But these are the main players for Utah, the guys who have to play heavy minutes. So, either they get better at point-of-attack defense or the series will end up in peril. That’s when the panic of Jazz Twitter will be justified.

“At the end of the day, we gotta guard better,” Mitchell said. “At the end of the day, we gotta stay in front. I don’t look at this like this is last year. Last year I had a bad ankle, and Mike had a bad hamstring. This? This year, this is something we can fix. So, we’ll go back and we’ll try and fix it and see what we can end up doing better.”

The Jazz knew they were going to have to defend small lineups. They know that’s Dallas’ counter to Gobert dominating the paint. At the same time, the Mavericks played a remarkable game Monday night. Going 22-of-47 from 3-point range is difficult, even if all the shots are wide open.

Brunson getting into the lane and dropping 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting? Man. Listen, Brunson is a terrific player, and he’s going to make a lot of money this summer. But 41 points on 15-of-25 from the field is a little extreme. And how about Dallas turning the ball over three times in 48 minutes? This was getting into Villanova 1985 national title game territory.

And you know what? The Jazz still had a chance to win.

They led by double digits in the second half (shocker). They led by seven in the fourth quarter. They led by multiple possessions at the halfway mark of the fourth quarter. At times, the Jazz had control. But they tired down the stretch. Mitchell played 22 second-half minutes, which led to him shooting 3-of-11 in the fourth quarter. Conley simply didn’t have it on either end of the floor Monday night and battled consistent foul trouble, which threw the rotation into flux.

But the Jazz accomplished what they needed to, even looked the end of the game ugly. They split the first two games. They wrestled home-court advantage away from the Mavericks. They have the next two at Vivint Arena.

“That’s why we aren’t going to overreact,” Mitchell said. “We’re going home, and we have to figure out a way to take care of business at home. They are going to be trying to get a split, just like we got a split in Dallas.”

If that part changes, if the Mavericks win one on the road, or even two, the tenor of this narrative changes. But at this point, the Jazz had a successful trip to Dallas. They have to back it up by protecting their home floor, which won’t be easy. The playoffs are difficult; that’s the game. Teams are good, and Dallas is a good team.

So, Jazz fans, exhale. Game 3 is Thursday night. The series is deadlocked at 1-1. The Mavericks accomplished what they needed, and they deserve a bunch of credit.

Now it’s Utah’s turn to adjust. Let’s see if the Jazz can do that for Game 3.

(Photo of Donovan Mitchell: Glenn James / NBAE via Getty Images)

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