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Well, as usual, my predictions about men's pro basketball were way off. I figured that between the hoops gods and the referees, at least one big-market team would make it to the league final series. Heck, they couldn't even get Atlanta in there. The Hawks lost to the real Milwaukee, who will play Phoenix starting on Tuesday.

You can hear the bean-counters of the NBA ripping their hair out. (That is not an option for the league commissioner.)

It won't go down with as big an asterisk as last year, when games were played in a Covid "bubble," but the season that's winding up now will certainly not be considered normal. They started late, but withiout a decent break from the "bubble" season, and they crammed a lot of games into a schedule that was only slightly abbreviated. As a consequence, injuries played a larger part in the playoffs than usual. For example, the Eastern Conference trophy went to Milwaukee, because Milwaukee without superstar Giannis was better than Atlanta without budding superstar Trae.

My playoff picks, the Clippers and the Nets, both had key players sitting out at the end due to injury. They're off in CancĂșn now, though, resting up for a while and sharing beers on the beach with Snoop Dogg. (Or rosĂ©. But I just can't.)

For Blazer fans, the Eastern Conference finals featured a couple of ex-homeboys. The Hawks were coached by former Blazer coach Nate McMillan, who definitely hit his ceiling when Trae went down. And the Bucks got a mighty contribution from lowly Pat Connaughton, a Blazer for a cup of coffee many moons ago. He'll be going at it in the finals.

Although I have good friends and memories in Milwaukee, I'm rooting for the Suns. The West is the best. I think Phoenix has a good shot. Giannis has missed two games for the Bucks with a knee injury, and I'm sure he's itching to come back. But as the Hawks' final loss illustrated, a team is often better without their star than they are with their star in the lineup playing on one leg.

It should be a fun final series to watch, but I have a hunch not that many eyes are going to watch it, relatively speaking. The games are not even starting until after the Fourth of July, and this is the time of year when many people in Wisconsin sit outside and drink themselves into a stupor. Meanwhile, everybody in Phoenix will be glued to their sets, because they'll die if they set foot outside, but it's not that many sets. 

Folks in L.A. and New York seem to have already moved on to baseball. But there's plenty of time for that after another week or two of hoops. So go, Suns.

UPDATE, a few hours later: An alert reader has reminded me (okay, I never realized) that the Suns' head coach, Monty Williams, was an assistant coach with the Blazers from 2005 to 2010. Another connection!