Utah Jazz: All-Star guard is now ready to dust off his rust

Utah Jazz (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Utah Jazz (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz will be trying to reintegrate one backcourt gem this weekend.

It remains to be seen if Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley will be in the lineup when the squad takes the floor for a road matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 6 p.m. MT Friday. But it does look as if the first-time All-Star will at least get some run in the game after missing the past nine outings while nursing a hamstring injury.

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Speaking to the media on Friday morning, the 33-year-old Conley pointed out that he’ll be on a minutes restriction. However, with only two contests remaining in the regular season, he stressed the importance of seeing even limited playing time as the NBA-best Jazz (50-20) fight for the No. 1 seed over the Phoenix Suns (49-21) in the Western Conference and prepare for a playoff run:

“There’s no better way of getting yourself back into a rhythm and back into game shape than playing in games. You can’t really mimic that in practice…It’s just not possible.”

Conley continued, noting that his hamstring definitely feels ready to go:

“I feel like it’s the perfect time for me to get some time to run up and down the court, get acclimated with the team again, just get my legs under me, conditioning, and use that almost as another step in the progression of returning to playoff ball.”

A welcomed return for the seemingly exhausted Utah Jazz

This is Mike Conley’s second season in Salt Lake City after spending his first 12 years as a pro with the Memphis Grizzlies. Currently, the No. 4 overall draft pick from 2007 is averaging 16.4 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.4 rebounds for the 2020-21 Utah Jazz while shooting 44.6 percent from the field, including 40.7 percent from downtown.

In Conley’s nine-game absence, Utah has pulled off a 6-3 record. Yet that includes the current two-game losing streak, in which some of the fill-in starters and key reserves have appeared noticeably tired, likely as a result of their increased roles in recent weeks.

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Meanwhile, fellow 2021 All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell remains out with a right ankle sprain that he suffered in a win over the Indiana Pacers back on April 16. And the franchise announced earlier this week that the team’s leading scorer (26.4 points per game) will not be in action for either of these final two regular-season games.