Ricky Rubio was a big reason why the Utah Jazz were able to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 1st round. In Game 6 of that series, Ricky Rubio left the game with an apparent hamstring injury; one that he had been struggling with since January. It appears it finally has got the best of the Spanish Samurai. Salt Lake Tribune reporter Tony Jones broke the news that Ricky Rubio will be held out of Game 1 against the Houston Rockets and, most likely, the rest of the series.
League sources: Jazz PG Ricky Rubio is OUT for Game 1 against Houston, and could miss as much as a few weeks with a hamstring injury— Tony Jones (@tribjazz) April 28, 2018
[Sidenote: Kudos to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Tony Jones for beating Woj to the news.]
Without Ricky Rubio, the Utah Jazz will have to rely heavily on Royce O’Neale who in the past has gotten the start in Rubio’s place when Ricky has been out with an injury. This also increases the pressure that will be on Dante Exum who has had a rough playoffs so far. This might mean that we could see much more of Alec Burks who had a big game against Oklahoma City in Game 6.
The Utah Jazz will miss Rubio’s playmaking, defense, but, most importantly, his energy. Rubio doesn’t take plays off. It’s not in his programming. His energy has turned around possessions, quarters, and, in the case of game 3 against Oklahoma City, an entire game. Ricky Rubio had been averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in the playoffs. They might be able to replace those points through the aggregate, the rebounds through the aggregate, and the assists through Joe Ingles, but they will never be able to replace Ricky Rubio’s energy and heart.
The Houston Rockets just gained a huge advantage in the second round of the NBA Playoffs and Game 1 hasn’t even started. Utah has shown a propensity for beating the odds, no matter the uphill climb. How will they respond when the degree of difficulty has been raised to the basketball equivalent of Mt. Everest? We’ll soon find out.