Grizzlies move on, limp into battle with Warriors
The Memphis Grizzlies made short work of the Portland Trail Blazers, as predicted by yours truly. The points in the paint differential and the loss of Wesley Matthews simply made Portland an overmatched team. The Grizzlies ended the series in five games, but not before Portland left its mark on Memphis. Mike Conley, who was already dealing with plantar fasciitis, was hit in the face by a C.J. McCollum elbow in Game 3. The Grizzlies went on to win that game, but Mike Conley was left with multiple fractures to his face.
Conley obviously missed Game 4, in which the Trail Blazers picked up as their only win in the series in front of the home crowd. Memphis actually had that game in hand too, with a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter, but Portland went on a 29-12 run to close it out. So the series shifted back to the Grind House in Memphis, where Marc Gasol decided he has had enough of the Trail Blazers. Gasol scored 26 points and grabbed 14 boards as the Grizzlies grabbed the 1st Round series win against Portland in 5 games with a 99-93 victory. While the victory was sweet in front of the home crowd in Memphis, Conley’s health is still the issue in the back of everyone’s mind. Memphis is not the same team without him, and going into battle with the Warriors and Steph Curry in the next round, Memphis will need their floor leader in the worst way.
So the Grizzlies move on to the Bay to play Golden State in a matchup of the #1 vs. #5 seed. As if the matchup against the league’s number one 3-point shooting team is not bad enough, they look to be without Conley for, at the very least, Game 1. The Grizzlies will also not have a huge advantage on points-in-the-paint as they did with Portland. The Warriors ranked third during the regular season in points-in-the-paint. The Warriors are also much deeper than the Grizzlies. Golden State can run guys like Livingston, Iguodala, Barbosa, Lee, and Speights off the bench all day long, while Memphis likes to stick to about an eight or nine man rotation. And without Conley, that depth is limited even more so.
|Regular Season Scorring||Regular Season Point in Paint||Regular Season 3-point Percentage|
|Golden State Warriors||110 ppg||45.3||39.8%|
|Memphis Grizzlies||98.3 ppg||47.1||33.9%|
While Mike Conley is out for Game 1, he is traveling with the team. That gives Grizzlies fans hope that Mike might be back for Game 2 on Tuesday. If not actually out on the court, he does at least provide moral support and inspiration for his club by being there. Memphis will have a hard time stopping the Splash Brothers, as all NBA teams have this year, but the Grizzlies have held their own this season against the Warriors. Golden State took 2 of 3 games this year from Memphis. The most recent meeting was on April 13th in Oakland, in which the Grizzlies could not stop Klay Thompson. Thompson had 26 points in the 2nd quarter and 37 at halftime, as the Warriors led 68-46. The Grizzlies did storm back in the fourth quarter though, outscoring Golden State 48-18, while the Warriors rested their starters. That game ended with a four point Golden State win in Oakland; the last time these two teams stepped on the floor against each other, three weeks ago. The Grizzlies were without Tony Allen and Mike Conley in that game.
Prediction: Golden State in 6
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Brandon covers the NBA & Memphis Grizzlies for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid.
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You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_Breid