With the two teams from Los Angeles stumbling through the first round of the playoffs, optimism has been high in Utah that this could be the year of the Jazz in the West.
Then point guard Mike Conley left Game 5 of Utah’s first-round series with right hamstring soreness, and while the Jazz still closed out the Grizzlies all eyes were on Conley.
An MRI revealed a mild right hamstring strain, the team announced.
During Game 5 between the Jazz and Grizzlies last night, Mike Conley left in the second quarter after experiencing right hamstring soreness. This morning an MRI revealed a mild right hamstring strain. He will be reevaluated prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) June 3, 2021
No timeline for Conley’s return has been set. He has said he expects to play in round two.
The Jazz will play the Mavericks vs. Clippers series winner, which Dallas leads 3-2. If the Mavericks close out the series at home on Friday night, the second-round series against the Jazz is expected to start Sunday. If the Clippers force a Game 7, that would be played on Sunday with Game 1 of the next round on Tuesday in Salt Lake City. Suddenly the entire state of Utah is rooting for the Clippers on Friday, hoping this series goes as long as possible, giving Conley more time to rest and heal.
Hamstrings are tricky in that they can seem healed — players don’t feel any pain walking or running in a straight line — but one explosive leap or cut can aggravate the injury and make it much worse.
While the Jazz are undoubtedly good without Conley, his health and fit this season is what took Utah from good to the NBA’s best record and a threat to win it all. Utah is not built like other contenders; it is more of an ensemble rather than a couple of superstars surrounded by complementary players that try to fit. Utah needs everyone healthy and playing well to win at the highest levels, which includes against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks or Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers.
Utah needs Conley. A mild hamstring strain is the best possible news out of the situation, but it is still worth monitoring.