Friday night at Vivint Arena will serve as a milestone for Mike Conley.
When he takes the court for the opening tip, it will serve as his 1000th regular season game, a feat that can be matched by just 11 other players currently playing this season.
When he first entered the league back in 2007, Conley was strictly a pass-first point guard. He was viewed as the prototypical point guard who could dictate the pace, run an offense, and knock down the open three-pointer.
Sixteen years later, the only thing that's really changed is that there appears to be more grey in his hair and beard. Conley is still the same player he was when he entered — just more mature with a vastly improved mental game.
He's still a player who can dictate the pace, run an offense, and knock down the open three-pointer — all things he's done at a very high level for the Jazz this season.
“I mean, it’s definitely a testament because not a lot of people get to do that in life,” Conley said. “Longevity is a real thing and to be able to play for that long, make that many memories, it says a lot. Truthfully it’s a blessing to be a part of the game and still be playing.”
With Lauri Markkanen (2023 All-Star), Walker Kessler (2023 Rising Stars), and Jordan Clarkson getting most of the headlines this season — and deservedly so — Conley has been the steadying force behind the league's fourth-best offense. His ability to control Utah's offense and ensure the Jazz get into their sets is why they've found so much success at the end of the games.
"Mike has been such a steadying force for us late in games," head coach Will Hardy said. "He and I have developed a very good communication about what we would like to do, and he does a good job communicating that to the team and getting them organized. … His decision-making continues to be great late in games."
While it's been a down season in terms of points for Conley, he's still proving he can play at an extremely high level. He's averaging a career-high 7.6 assists per game while still putting up 10.5 points and 2.5 rebounds on 36.1% shooting from deep.
He's been even better over his past nine games, averaging 12.4 points, 7.6 assists, and 3.8 rebounds on 37.5% shooting from deep.
Conley and the Jazz will have the chance to continue their recent hot streak when they host Trae Young and Atlanta on Friday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT.
Utah (27-26, 18-9 home / No. 8 Western Conference)
*117.8 Points Per Game (No. 4 in NBA)
*116.8 Offensive Rating (No. 4 in NBA)
*116.5 Points Per Game (No. 23 in NBA)
*115.3 Defensive Rating (No. 26 in NBA)
*Lauri Markkanen: 24.9 points | 8.7 rebounds | 1.8 assists | 43.4% 3P-shooting
*Jordan Clarkson: 20.9 points | 4.3 assists | 3.9 rebounds | 35.2% 3P-shooting
*Collin Sexton: 14.3 points | 2.8 assists | 2.3 rebounds | 42.2% 3P-shooting
*Kelly Olynyk: 11.7 points | 4.9 rebounds | 3.2 assists | 40.6% 3P-shooting
Atlanta (26-26, 13-15 away / No. 8 Eastern Conference)
*116.5 Points Per Game (No. 9 in NBA)
*113.8 Offensive Rating (No. 13 in NBA)
*116.5 Points Per Game (No. 22 in NBA)
*114.0 Defensive Rating (No. 19 in NBA)
*Trae Young: 27.0 points | 9.9 assists | 2.9 rebounds | 32.2% 3P-shooting
*Dejounte Murray: 21.2 points | 6.1 assists | 5.5 rebounds | 37.0% 3P-shooting
*De’Andre Hunter: 15.6 points | 4.3 rebounds | 36.4% 3P-shooting
*Bogdan Bogdanovic: 15.5 points | 3.3 rebounds | 3.1 assists | 37.4% 3P-shooting
*Battle of the Backcourts
— One of the most experienced backcourts in the NBA resides in Utah with Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson. Conley is the prototypical assist man while Clarkson has really elevated his game this season as a go-to scorer and playmaker. Meanwhile, Atlanta possesses one of the youngest and most exciting backcourts in the league. Trae Young is the headliner but Dejounte Murray might be the more complete player. Whichever duo can come out on top should help lead their team to victory.
QUESTIONABLE | Simone Fontecchio (left foot soreness)
OUT | Johnny Juzang (G League - Two Way)
OUT | Micah Potter (G League - Two-Way)
OUT | Tyrese Martin (G League - Two-Way)
OUT | Donovan Williams (G League - Two-Way)
Time: 7:00 p.m. MT
Location: Vivint Arena |Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network