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Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley says he's 'ready to go' after missing a month with a hamstring injury
After going through his shootaround on Saturday morning, Mike Conley made his way toward the reporters gathered at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, faced the scrum, but didn’t realize he was standing just to the side of the bank of microphones waiting for him.
“Sorry,” he said after taking a step to the side. “It’s been a while.”
The Utah Jazz point guard has been sidelined for nearly a month since aggravating a hamstring injury that has caused him to miss 19 of his team’s last 20 games. But after a challenging and lengthy rehab process, Conley is expected to make his return to the court tonight as the Jazz host the Sacramento Kings.
“I have zero concerns,” Conley said of his hamstring. “Zero. I’m just anxious. I’ve been waiting a long time. I’m ready to go.”
It is unclear whether Conley’s minutes will be restricted in his first game back, but his teammates will gladly take anything the star guard can give them.
“It’ll be great for us,” forward Joe Ingles said. “As much as we’ve been playing well, there have been a lot of times we could have used him out there. He’s a huge addition. We welcome him back with open arms.”
Conley (14.9 points, 5.7 assists per game) first injured his hamstring Dec. 2 at Philadelphia. He missed five games before suiting up against the Orlando Magic on Dec. 17. He played 19 minutes before aggravating his hamstring. Since then, Conley has been working diligently to get back.
“I’ve been getting in here early and spending probably 4-5 hours out of the day,” he said. “Lifting a lot of weights, lifting once or twice a day depending on the schedule. Coming back in the evenings. Running in the pool. Conditioning on the treadmill. Just constantly staying in motion and doing as much strengthening as I can.”
Even without Conley, the Jazz have been playing their best basketball of the season over the past month. The team went 16-4 with Conley cheering them on from the sidelines.
“It can be tough to stay positive in this situation,” Conley said. “But it’s really easy when the team is doing so well. It would be the opposite if your team was losing and you couldn’t be out there. But I trust every one of those guys and they all stepped up.”
Conley said the Jazz are a “different team from a month ago” but he feels he’ll be able to fit back in quickly.
“For me, it’s just being myself,” he said. “I’m not a guy that’s going to be overbearing at all. I don’t hunt shots. I try to play defense and be an unselfish teammate. I think it will be easy to conform to what we’ve got going and try to elevate it as much as I can.”