Many were ready to write off the Utah Jazz as soon as Rudy Gobert suffered an injury early in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.
For shame, too, because this was supposed to be the series Gobert catapulted himself into household-name status. He’s easily one of the best centers in the league, a 24-year-old star coming off a season in which he averaged 14.0 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
In a testament to the great building job put on by the Jazz, the team still wound up winning 97-95, getting 19 points from Gordon Hayward and a timely 21 from veteran Joe Johnson off the bench.
Now if only Gobert could return. Recent updates by Jazz coach Quin Snyder don’t sound great, per ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon:
“I don’t think we’re ready to say today, tomorrow, a week, two weeks,” Snyder told reporters at the Jazz’s practice in Los Angeles. “I think it’s literally that wide open.”
As for Gobert himself:
“Trying to get better every day,” Gobert told ESPN via text message Sunday.
The sooner the better for the Jazz. Stealing Game 1 on the road was huge, but the Clippers can adjust to a team missing one of its best players and start picking up wins here.
Though some may disagree, the future of the Jazz rests on this series. Win it, and it increases the chances Hayward won’t leave in free agency, which would put a dagger right through the heart of a great building job. But the Jazz need Gobert back on the court to make it happen.