I’m still trying to wrap my head around the Utah Jazz’s defeat in the hands of the Houston Rockets in their Western Conference Semifinals matchup. The biggest what-if in my mind remains the absence of starting point guard Ricky Rubio in the Rockets series, no thanks to a hamstring injury he suffered at the clinching Game 6 of Utah’s first round tiff against the Oklahoma City Thunder. I am certain the rejuvenated veteran Spanish playmaker would have made a big impact on the Jazz offensive sets, possibly even changing the complexion of the series. But it’s all water under the bridge right now and I can only hope that the team won’t miss key starters deep into the next post-season. (Yes, I am confident the Salt Lake City franchise can return to the playoffs again, especially with how strongly they bounced back from a big hole they dug themselves into the first half of the 2017-2018 battles, their first after losing Gordon Hayward to free agency.) Injuries are part and parcel of team sports, I know. Still hoping though that perhaps Utah can catch a break next time around.
So I’m reverting back to my usual basketball purist mode at this stage of the NBA wars — no favorite team to root for, just watching the games for the appreciation of the sport. Fearless forecast? I’m calling the Cleveland Cavaliers will win it all this season barring any injuries to LeBron James, who is just spectacular so far. There. I said it.