The Game 3 loss to the Clippers showed that the Jazz will likely need Mike Conley to win the series, writes Christopher Kamrani of The Athletic. Conley hasn’t played since suffering a strained hamstring on June 2 in the first round against Memphis.
Conley has experienced hamstring issues throughout the season, Kamrani adds, and the Jazz avoided playing him on back-to-back nights to minimize the risk of a serious injury. Utah was able to beat L.A. twice at home without its All-Star point guard, but it will be tough to close out the series without him on the court.
Before Game 3 on Saturday night, Jazz coach Quin Snyder dismissed the notion that Conley was being kept on the sidelines because his team had a 2-0 lead.
“It has nothing to do with us feeling any form of accomplishment, having won a couple of games. Mike’s not ready to go yet,” Snyder said. “He’s working hard every day to try to get back. But, in no way are we feeling even some small form of success. Obviously, you’re glad you won a couple of games, but seeing we lost Game 1 against Memphis last series, and the Clippers obviously lost against Dallas and then won the series — we know how difficult a series this is going to be. And when Mike’s ready, he’ll be back.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The Thunder own the draft rights to Vasilije Micic, who was named MVP of the EuroLeague last month, but a decision on his NBA future will have to wait a few weeks, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 27-year-old Serbian point guard may be ready to consider the NBA this summer, but Oklahoma City isn’t willing to commit a roster spot until after the July 29 draft, when it could have two picks in the top five. Micic is much older than the Thunder’s core and the team is already set at point guard, so his draft rights could become a valuable trade asset, Mussatto adds.
- Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley, who is serving a 120-day jail sentence for a gun incident last year, posted a letter to fans on his Instagram account this week, relays Jeff Wald of Fox 9. “I’m not looking for sympathy or anything like that, just to understand I could easily fold and I won’t,” Beasley wrote.
- The Timberwolves won’t bring back Sam Newman-Beck as head coach of their G League affiliate in Iowa, tweets NBA writer Dane Moore. Newman-Beck was hired at the same time as former Wolves coach Ryan Saunders, but coach Chris Finch wants to build a new coaching staff all the way to the G League.