Utah Jazz: Caution might be costing this team a championship

Utah Jazz (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Utah Jazz (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz could be to blame for their domino effect of injury problems.

On Monday, The J-Notes predicted the No. 1 seed Utah Jazz would not win any of their Western Conference Semifinals meetings against the No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers that coincide with Mike Conley being out of commission.

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Well, a day later, Utah Jazz Twitter has now confirmed that Conley, who earned the first All-Star nod of his 14-year NBA career this go-round and was arguably the group’s first-round MVP, will not be available for Game 1 at 8 p.m. MT Tuesday in Salt Lake City.


Of course, the second-year Jazzman’s absence is due to his mild right hamstring strain last Wednesday night during the series-clinching Game 5 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

With that in mind, though, the franchise’s safety-first decision-makers may, in fact, deserve some blame for Conley’s injury. After all, had they not erred on the side of extreme caution by keeping All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell out of action — against his will, mind you — in the Game 1 loss to the Grizzlies, the squad probably wouldn’t have needed five games to advance in the first place.

Thus, Conley might now have been just as healthy as he appeared to be at the end of Game 4.

Instead, there’s now no telling just how long the 33-year-old will be out. His type of injury is tricky. It tends to linger, already evident in the fact that Conley’s hamstring was largely the culprit in his 20 missed games across the regular season.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, head coach Quin Snyder provided a foggy outlook:

“Hopefully, we get him back as quickly as possible. But those things are hard to predict.”

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One has to wonder if Mike Conley’s latest setback was at least partially a result of the increased load on his shoulders in Game 1 and then his season-highs of 37 minutes and 36 minutes in Game 2 and Game 3 with his teammate on a minutes restriction.

That all seemed to result from the kid-gloves handling of 24-year-old Donovan Mitchell, who finally returned 40 days after his ankle sprain and looked to be well beyond healthy by scoring 25 points or more in Game 2 through Game 5 versus the Memphis Grizzlies despite his playing fewer than 30 minutes in three of those four outings.

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Granted, we shall never know for certain if, and to what extent, the caution concerning Mitchell’s delayed return and overall gradual reintegration ultimately impacted the Game 5 injury occurring to Conley.

Yet on that same token, if any upcoming injuries or extreme fatigue plague, say, the fill-in backcourt starter in 33-year-old Utah Jazz veteran Joe Ingles, we shall never know for certain whether those issues were, at their core, a consequence of all the Conley and Mitchell absences.

In summary, full health would give this Utah Jazz bunch a better chance of hoisting the franchise’s first Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy — duh — but too much caution in trying to obtain the unobtainable “bruiseless” tag in the playoffs could just as easily lead to other players’ injuries or, in effect, eventually dig too deep of a hole in a series.

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Finally, on the flip side, a W despite Mike Conley’s absence in the opening bout against the Los Angeles Clippers would sure make some of these present-day worries disappear in a hurry.