SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Conley described it as a "little tug" and a "small tweak." Such an apparent minor thing never felt so big.
Near the end of the first quarter, Conley aggravated the same right hamstring injury that forced him to miss time twice already this season. He initially tried to play through the discomfort, but the more he ran the more sore it got. He went back to the locker room for treatment during the second quarter and never returned.
The obvious question: Will he be ready for the start of the second round?
"There's no definitive diagnosis right now," Conley said. "I think that we'll wait for tomorrow (Thursday) and reassess and see where we're at and go from there. Obviously, it's the playoff so my mindset is I'm gonna be ready to play. So that's kind of the visual I put in front of myself that I'm gonna be ready, but at the same time we're gonna see what happens in the next few days."
The Jazz don't yet know when they'll start their second round series, leaving the time for Conley to heal uncertain. Dallas leads 3-2 over the Los Angeles Clippers, with Game 6 of that series scheduled for Friday. If the Mavericks win, the series against the Jazz could begin as early as Sunday.
Conley initially injured the hamstring in February and was out for 13 days. He aggravated the injury again near the end of the regular season and missed 17 days.
The good news: He says the tweak he suffered Wednesday doesn't feel as severe. Conley will have an MRI on the injured hamstring Thursday morning to learn more.
"It feels less than the last one and that previous one felt less than the one before that, so I feel like I'll be fine eventually — and hopefully that'd be Game 1 of the second round," Conley said. "But I can't say for sure right now. ... My mindset is set on playing and being ready to go, so I'll do whatever I can to do that."
Conley said that some of the soreness subsided after getting treatment, but with how the game was going (the Jazz were up big) and the prospect of a few days rest, it was decided the best course of action was for him to not return.
So there are glimmers of hope the Jazz will have their starting point guard back soon, but just the fact that it's a question is a frustrating feeling for Conley.
Conley averaged 20 points and 10.3 assists in the first four games of the series. He was playing some of the best basketball of his career on the best team he's ever been on. It was gut punch to feel that little tug on his hamstring.
"I'm frustrated, for sure," Conley said. "It's something I've worked tirelessly — spent night and day on and put a lot of effort into it. Showing up early, staying late, strengthening, running conditioning — everything. It's just one of those things you don't know when it'll happen or why it happens — it just does.
"For me, it's never been like a true hamstring pull where it just knocks you out; it's just like a small tweak, that's just enough to cause discomfort and worry some folks so that's the frustrating part."
If Conley were to miss time, it would continue a very unfortunate trend for Quin Snyder's Jazz teams. Each time Snyder has led a team to the second round, he's lost his starting point guard in the process. In 2017, George Hill didn't play in as the Jazz got swept by the Golden State Warriors; and in 2018, Ricky Rubio was out for Utah's loss to the Houston Rockets.