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Utah’s Mike Conley leaves bubble to attend birth of son

Kurt Helin looks at potential for upsets in the East and West, explaining how the Utah Jazz could take advantage of the Denver Nuggets' defensive woes and how Joel Embiid and the 76ers could surprise the Celtics.

Utah point guard Mike Conley — who has played his best basketball of the season in the restart — has left the NBA’s Orlando campus to attend the birth of his son.

The Jazz made the announcement Sunday.

Family should always come before basketball (and congratulations to the Conley family). However, what would have been an off-season birth most years will impact the Jazz in the playoffs this season.

Utah starts its playoff series against Denver on Monday, and games will be played every other day. If Conley has a negative coronavirus test every day he is outside the bubble he will have a four-day quarantine upon return. Meaning, expect Conley to miss the first three games of this first-round series (in theory he could miss only two, but it’s unlikely).

Conley has been playing his best basketball of the season in Orlando, averaging 18 points and five assists a game in the bubble. More importantly, the Jazz have been +13.5 per 100 possessions when Conley was on the court.

Not having Conley or Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist surgery) messes with the Jazz rotations heading into this series.

Utah is in a tough spot, but Denver has not impressed at the restart, either (outside of Michael Porter Jr.). This is going to be one fascinating series.