Is Mike Conley the Linchpin in Memphis?
*Photo via USA Today
Mike Conley, point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies, missed his team’s Game 1 matchup with the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semi-Finals due to fractures to his left eye socket. His team lost Game 1, 101-86, in his absence.
Golden State looked impenetrable. Then Mike Conley came back. Conley erupted for 22 points, on eight for twelve shooting. In his return, Memphis stole Game Two at Oracle Arena, 97-90.
Is Mike Conley the linchpin to the success of the Memphis Grizzlies? It certainly feels that way.
One may look at that game two stat-line and say that box score hardly constitute an ‘eruption,’ but Conley’s impact was far from numerical.
Conley began the game on a tear with eight quick points, hitting his first four shots. Conley was able to get into the lane at will, forcing the defense to collapse, and he was able to get the ball moving to the open man for easy scores.
Mike Conley gives someone for the Golden State to focus their perimeter defense around. Nick Calathas did a great job in Conley’s absence, but no one on the opposing sideline fears him; Conley demands that respect, and as such, draws a great deal of attention.
Enough about Conley’s offense. His real impact is on the defensive side of the ball. Conley’s lateral movement makes him a challenge for Stephen Curry. Conley has always been lauded for his tenacious defense, and this is, and will be, his greatest challenge yet. The MVP can slice and dice his way into the lane, and as we all know, can shoot the dang lights out.
But what exactly did Conley’s return do to the Warrior’s offense? Below is a table showing the Warriors’ playoffs statistics, next to their Game 2 statistics (NBA.com).
Golden State Warriors 2015 Playoffs Game 2
Points: 107.2 90
3 Pointers made: 12.0 6
Assists: 25.8 16
Did the Warriors have a bad game? Maybe so. Did Mike Conley have a lot to do with that bad game? Probably. Will Mike Conley affect the remainder of this series? We’ll have to wait and see.
Tune in to Game 3 on Saturday, May 7th at 8PM Eastern, on ABC.