In case you haven’t heard, Mike Conley is coming back tonight against the Sacramento Kings.
Mike Conley is probable to play tomorrow— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) January 18, 2020
This comes at a perfect time for the Jazz who are creeping up on a very difficult stretch in the schedule.
Mike Conley returning Saturday night is probably the perfect timing. Lets him get 3 games in before the team enters an important conference segment of the schedule with Dallas x2, Denver x2, Portland x2, San Antonio x2, Houston x3. One game with the Heat in there as well.— Ken Clayton (@k_clayt) January 18, 2020
This is arguably the most important upcoming stretch of the season for the Jazz. Not only are the teams they’re going to face very good but all of them are, minus Portland, competing with the Jazz for playoff seeding. If the Jazz win most of these upcoming games, the #2 seed is within reach. If they lose most of them? Welcome back to another 4/5 playoff matchup.
Utah knows this and I’m sure they’re antsy to get Mike Conley some run with the team before this stretch. The next three games for Utah includes very winnable games against Sacramento, Indiana and Golden State. The most important part about these games is the crucial time it gives Conley time to acclimate with a Jazz team that’s playing its best basketball of the year.
But that might be easier than people think. Conley has missed 19 of the last 20 games. If you go back to the last game he played (excluding the half game he returned and re-aggravated his hamstring) Jeff Green and Ed Davis were getting regular minutes off the bench and the Jazz didn’t have Jordan Clarkson. Those roster moves, as demonstrated by the Jazz recent uptick in wins, were a much bigger deal than we thought.
The 9 most used 4 man lineups by the Utah Jazz this year that don't included Green, Exum or Davis are all +9 or more with 7 of 9 being +15 or more (yes 15)— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) January 17, 2020
Don’t be surprised if Mike Conley comes in and the Jazz don’t miss a beat. The thing that gets me most excited though, is what if those roster changes also unlock Conley’s potential.
The Jazz started this season thinking the additions of Jeff Green and Ed Davis would be huge additions and they turned out to be obstacles.