SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – As the Utah Jazz chase their ultimate goal of an NBA championship, the competition only gets tougher.
The top-seeded Jazz will open the Western Conference Semifinals Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers at 8:00 p.m. at Vivint Arena.
The series outcome could be determined by the health of Mike Conley. The Jazz All-Star point guard is listed as questionable with a mild right hamstring strain for Game 1.
But the Jazz have played, and won without their point guard this season. Utah went 6-3 without Conley down the stretch of the regular season.
“It’s not the same without Mike,” said Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic. “We’re going to need to make some adjustments. But it’s next man up. We have enough quality to overcome that. We’re going to really miss him if he can’t play.”
Conley re-aggravated his hamstring strain during the Jazz series-clinching victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
Donovan Mitchell, who averaged 28 points per game in the Jazz first round series victory over Memphis, took advantage of the five days rest to get his ankle even stronger.
“It’s good,” Mitchell said. “I’m ready to go. The time off was great. I definitely missed playing, but my ankle feels good and I’m ready to go.”
The Clippers won’t be as rested, coming off a grueling 7-game series against Dallas, capped by a victory Sunday at the Staples Center. But they may have the best player on the floor in Kawhi Leonard.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bogdanovic said about Leonard, who scored 75 points on 28 of 40 shooting in the final two games of the series. “Just his footwork and his ability to hit tough shots. The challenge for us is to make him take and make tough shots.”
“The thing I respect about Kawhi,” Mitchell said. “Everybody talks about his two-way ability, which is obviously elite, but it’s his will to win. He does everything.”
The Jazz know they are the favorites in this series, but they are far from overconfident as last year’s playoff disappointment in the NBA bubble still stings.
“We understand we’re the best team in the NBA, but also understanding that we just felt the loss before,” Mitchell said. “We don’t want to go back to that feeling. Just because we won a series, it’s not the end all. It’s like a high school kid, a number one ranked kid going to college. It doesn’t mean nothing.”