My conclusion? There is no freakin' way the Jazz would have beat the Rockets in any of the two previous years if we had Artest on the roster. No freakin' way.
Ah, that taunt never gets old... but anyway...
Take a look at the rosters and matchups as they would exist today. Too many people think Utah might be one of the top 2 teams in the West right now. Those people would be wrong.
As of tomorrow, the Rockets roster/rotation will look like this:
PG: Rafer (sober, I hope)
SG: Tracy McGrady
SF: Ron Artest
PF: Luis Scola
C: Yao Ming
off the bench, we'll have the luxury of subbing in:
Shane Battier, Brent Barry, Carl Landry (I hope), Aaron Brooks and Chuck Hayes.
Which means we could have a 4th Q "finishing 5" of T-Mac, Crazy Pills, Battier, Scola and Yao. Would any team legitimately be able to expect to score more than 20 points in a quarter against that group? Even if the Rockets have trouble scoring on their own (which they won't), they are going to pose defensive matchup nightmares for every team they face. Close games are going to favor the Rockets. Finally.
Though, in the spirit of equal time, here's the rag-tag group the Jazz might throw out on the court next season in their continued effort to offend, insult and bore NBA fans nationwide:
PG: Deron Williams (okay, he's cool)
SG: Ronnie Brewer
SF: Andrei Kirilenko
PF: the guy who stabs blind guys in the front
C: Mehmet Okur
off the bench, the Jazz will have no choice but to turn to:
Ashton Korver, Matt Harpring (pwn3d, bitch!), C.J. Miles and Paul Millsap (unless they also want me to mention Jarron Collins and Brevin Knight, but I'm guessing "no" there).
Hmmm, let's see... starting lineup - definitely favors the Rockets. Major advantages at C and SG overcome Utah's only real advantage - which would be at the PG spot. But since Deron can't play the whole game, the Rockets' depth, size and experience would (and will) overwhelm Utah over the course of any game/series. And don't start with any "Boozer would kill Scola" arguments. Scola is a badass. Boozer is a coward. Scola already has a gold freakin' medal, while Boozer is playing the Christian Laettner role this year for the U.S. squad.