The Jazz desperately need Mike Conley back to hold off Clippers

Mike Conley, Utah Jazz. (Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
Mike Conley, Utah Jazz. (Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Utah Jazz are hoping Mike Conley can return in their playoff series vs. the LA Clippers.

Without Mike Conley, the Utah Jazz have struggled to put away the LA Clippers in the playoffs.

In Conley’s second year in Salt Lake, the Jazz earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference Playoff. The long-time Memphis Grizzlies point guard also earned his first trip to the NBA All-Star this past winter at the age of 33. While center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell are better than him, Conley is the straw that stirs the drink when it comes to this Jazz team.

Conley has not played at all in the first four games of this series due to a hamstring injury.

The Utah Jazz will need Mike Conley to return to defeat the LA Clippers

While the Jazz had no issues putting away Conley’s former team in the first round in five games, Utah is quickly realizing that the Clippers are not Memphis. Conley’s absence has been felt greatly in this best-of-seven series vs. Los Angeles. After winning both games at home by a combined nine points, Utah got boat raced in Games 3 and 4, losing by 26 and then 14 points to fall to 2-2.

From a competitive standpoint, Utah can absolutely win its first NBA Finals this year. They were a better team the Clippers this season over Los Angeles for a reason. While the Phoenix Suns will be a tough matchup in a potential Western Conference Finals series, Utah is stout enough defensively to beat Devin Booker’s team and maybe even whoever does come out of the Eastern Conference.

However, there are two glaring weaknesses with regards to this Jazz team. They are simply not athletic enough out on the wing to be able to hold their own vs. a healthy Brooklyn Nets team in a potential NBA Finals. They also have been exposed in crunch time vs. a high-quality Clippers team without the use of their floor general. In short, Conley offsets some of Utah’s offensive limitations.

At this point of the NBA Playoffs, every single injury a team suffers or has to work through is exposed almost immediately. The seven teams still left are too talented and too well-coached to not make the necessary adjustments once a top-three player goes down with an injury. Thus, it is only natural for Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the rest of Tyronn Lue’s Clippers to adjust here.

While Utah still has home-court advantage in this best-of-seven series vs. Los Angeles, it really is a best-of-three now with it all tied up at two games apiece. Utah may have an outstanding home crowd, but the Jazz have been dreadful on the road without Conley. Simply, there is little margin for error for Utah to play somewhat of a bad game and still defeat the Clippers without him.

If Utah wants to advance to the Western Conference Finals, the Jazz need Conley to return soon.

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