Utah Jazz point guard George Hill has been ruled out for Game 2 of the team’s second-round series against the Golden State Warriors with “left big toe soreness,” the team announced on Thursday.
Hill has been dealing with the toe injury since about a month into the season. He sprained it in a late-November game against the Rockets, and missed 13 games in December because of it.
“He’s been fighting that for most of the year, and fighting it last series,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said on Thursday at shootaround. “He’s been playing through it. You reach a point where it’s hard to be effective.”
The Warriors hold a 1-0 lead in the series, and could put the Jazz in a two-game hole with a win in Oakland on Thursday night. Golden State is the decided favorite in Game 2 and in the series, and Hill’s absence only makes Utah’s task more difficult.
“Hopefully a few days off will calm it down a little bit,” Snyder said of Hill’s injury. “But he’s still going to have to fight it.” The Jazz and Warriors will play Game 3 back in Utah on Saturday.
Hill had just seven points in 28 minutes in Tuesday’s Game 1, but averaged 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists on the season as Utah’s primary ball-handler.
“Anytime you take your point guard off your team, that’s a position that’s very difficult to replace on a lot of levels,” Snyder said. “We miss a lot. We miss his offense, we miss his shooting, we miss his scoring.”
The Jazz do have experience playing without Hill. The 31-year-old point guard not only missed the 13 games in December; he missed eight in November with a thumb injury, three in January with a concussion and six in March with a groin strain. In all, Hill was sidelined for 33 games, and the Jazz went 18-15 without him.
With Hill out, Snyder will likely turn to a combination of Shelvin Mack, Dante Exum and Raul Neto at point guard. Snyder, when asked on Thursday, wouldn’t say which of the three would start in place of Hill.
More offensive onus will also fall on Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood and others as the Jazz look to keep pace with the high-flying Warriors.
Hayward and Joe Ingles spoke about the impact of Hill’s absence:
"We've got guys that can step in" – Joe Ingles pic.twitter.com/PLepMYRX78
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) May 4, 2017
Game 2 tips off at 10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday night.