Conley, Harris and Barton All Out for Game 1; Nuggets Now 5-Point Favorites vs Jazz

Utah Jazz

Utah’s Mike Conley has left the Orlando Bubble for the birth of his son. Photo by @DunkBait (Twitter).

  • Utah’s starting point guard Mike Conley has left the Orlando Bubble for the birth of his son and will miss Game 1 versus Denver
  • The news has prompted online sportsbooks to make the Jazz a bigger underdog, moving the line from Nuggets -3.5 to -5
  • Read below for how Conley’s absence will affect Utah in the series opener

The NBA playoffs tip-off Monday afternoon at 1:30 pm EST, minus some pretty prominent players. Both the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets will be missing key pieces for Game 1 of their 1st round series, but it’s the latest news out of Jazz camp that has prompted online sportsbooks to move the line.

Jazz vs Nuggets Game 1 Odds

Team Spread at FanDuel Moneyline Total
Utah Jazz +5.0 (-115) +168 O 216.0 (-110)
Denver Nuggets -5.0 (-105) -200 U 216.0 (-110)

Odds taken Aug. 16th.

Starting point guard Mike Conley has left the Orlando Bubble for the birth of his son. Prior to his departure, Utah was a +3.5-point underdog, but now that they’ll be missing their primary ball handler, the line has moved a point and a half in Denver’s favor.

2020 NBA Championship Odds Tracker

What Conley’s Absence Means

In Conley’s absence, Donovan Mitchell will likely assume a lot of the ball handling duties, while Jordan Clarkson will be inserted into the starting lineup. With Conley off the floor this season, Mitchell’s assist rate increased from 5.3 to 6.4, as did his points per possession (1.12 to 1.16).

Conley had been averaging 18 points and 5 assists since the restart, and it will be up to Mitchell to pick up the slack. Utah’s leading scorer has been inconsistent in the Orlando Bubble so far, but did pour in 35 points versus the Nuggets in a loss last week.

If Conley is gone for less than seven days, and tests negative for COVID-19 each day he’s outside the Orlando Bubble, he’ll be able to rejoin the team after a four-day quarantine upon returning. Given that the Jazz and Nuggets will play every other day beginning Monday, Conley could be back in the lineup for Game 4 at the earliest.

As if the Conley news wasn’t bad enough, Utah will also be without backup center Ed Davis for the duration of the Nuggets series due to a knee injury.

Denver Desperately Missing Harris and Barton

Denver meanwhile, will be without Garry Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) for Game 1, but that’s been the case since the restart. Neither player has suited up in Orlando, and while Barton’s offense has been missed, they haven’t been able to overcome Harris’ absence at the defensive end.

Harris is the Nuggets’ best perimeter defender and without him, Denver has seen its points allowed per game soar from 114 to 123. They’re 3-5 since the restart, and have given up monster games to not only Mitchell, but Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as well.

Will Jazz Miss a Beat Without Conley?

Interesting enough, Utah hasn’t performed all that differently with and without Conley on the floor this season. With him running the offense, they’re averaging 1.117 points per possession, but with him on the sidelines their output is virtually the same (1.118 ppp). They actually shoot the ball better as a team without him on the court, 47.8% vs 45.9%, and Mitchell should have no problem assuming his ball handling duties.

Denver on the other hand, has been bleeding production to every team they’ve faced. and that isn’t likely to change without Harris.

With or without Conley on the floor, the Nuggets shouldn’t be favored by five points over the Jazz, which makes Utah +5 the prudent play.

Pick: Utah +5.0 (-115)


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Chris Amberley

NFL NBA MLB NHL Golf Sport Writer & Editor