How the Jazz’s game plan vs. the Clippers shifts without Mike Conley

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

How much does Mike Conley’s absence change the Utah Jazz’s outlook in a Western Conference semifinal showdown against the LA Clippers?

The morning of Game 1 of the series Tuesday in Salt Lake City, the Jazz ruled Conley out of the game due to a mild strain of his right hamstring, which he suffered as they closed out the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round last Wednesday.

That means Utah must at least begin the series without its starting point guard, who this season made his long-overdue first All-Star appearance at age 33. And the fact that Conley didn’t even get a chance for a pregame warm-up before a decision on his status — he was a limited participant in Monday’s practice before being ruled out — suggests he might not be back for Game 2 either.

How big a factor is Conley’s loss against a Clippers team that just came back from a 3-2 deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks? How will Utah’s game plan shift against LA’s switch-heavy defense?

Let’s break down what a sidelined Conley means for the start of this series.

Jazz without Conley

Conley has dealt with right hamstring injuries all season. He missed six games due to tightness in the hamstring in February and nine more beginning in late April, returning for the final two games of the regular season to prepare for the playoffs. He also sat out five games for injury management with the hamstring, accounting for 20 of the 21 games he missed during the regular season.

Despite Conley’s April absence overlapping with one for All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Utah went 15-6 (.714) without him, only marginally worse than the team’s .725 winning percentage in games he started. The Jazz’s record without Conley was still better than any other team posted during the regular season.

But taking a deeper look at Utah’s performance and adjusting for opponent shows an interesting trend.

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