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Mike Conley rejoins Utah Jazz in NBA bubble, to proceed with four-day quarantine

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Utah Jazz’ Mike Conley celebrates a 3-point basket against the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Kevin C. Cox/Pool photo via The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz announced Tuesday that guard Mike Conley has returned to the NBA bubble. He is required to quarantine for four days, which will end sometime on Friday.

On Sunday morning, Conley rushed home to Columbus, Ohio, where his wife gave birth to the couple’s third son. Conley arrived at the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus in Florida on Monday night, according to a league source.

“Conley’s excused absence and daily testing meant that he could proceed with the with a four-day quarantine — the standard protocol for players who leave the bubble under approved circumstances.” — Sarah Todd

Conley missed Game 1 of the Jazz’s first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets Monday.

The NBA spent Tuesday reviewing Conley’s case, making sure that everything was on the up and up and that Conley had been tested daily while he was away from the bubble. After review of the case, the league determined that Conley’s excused absence and daily testing meant that he could proceed with the with a four-day quarantine — the standard protocol for players who leave the bubble under approved circumstances — which would end on Friday.

The New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson left the bubble for a family emergency in mid-July, returning on the night of July 24 and was cleared to join the Pelicans for practice on July 28.

Based on the four-day quarantine protocol, Conley will not be available Wednesday for Game 2 against the Nuggets, but could possibly be available for Game 3 on Friday so long as his final COVID-19 test results are returned before the game begins at 4 p.m. EST.

An NBA spokesperson said the league office is currently reviewing Conley’s case and will send an update when the review is complete. That review should include a definite timeline for Conley’s return.

Conley has recently said how much more comfortable and at ease he feels with the Jazz compared to where he was earlier in the 2019-20 season. In the bubble, Conley is averaging 18 points and five assists per game.

Rookie Juwan Morgan started in place of Conley in Game 1 against the Nuggets on Monday and although he only scored three points — on a corner 3-pointer that looked easy — Morgan impressed on the defensive end and with his hustle, earning himself a plus-17 on the day.

“First off, I just want to give a huge shoutout to Juwan Morgan,” Donovan Mitchell said unprompted to reporters after the game. “Very impressive for a rookie to come in and start his first playoff game and contribute the way he did.”

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Utah Jazz’s Juwan Morgan, left, scrambles for the ball with Denver Nuggets’ Jerami Grant (9) and Jamal Murray during the second half of an NBA basketball first round playoff game, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Ashley Landis, AP

Morgan kept former Jazzman Paul Millsap in check in Morgan’s 25 minutes on the floor, which earned him praise and respect across the board.

Though Morgan’s playoff debut was impressive, a large scoring responsibility was placed on Mitchell’s shoulders. Already without Bojan Bogdanovic, the absence of Conley made things even more dire from an offensive production point of view. Mitchell delivered with an incredible 57-point performance, but the Jazz still came up just short in overtime.

With Conley on the floor, the Jazz don’t have as much size as they do with Morgan, but the two-man game options between Conley and Rudy Gobert and either Conley or Mitchell being open for kick-outs becomes a little bit easier. That’s not to say that the Denver defense won’t look at ways to keep Mitchell out of the offense, but if Conley is on the floor they may have to pick their poison.