Balls: No Conley, no chance 

Say a pray for Beno Udrih tonight, won’t you?

The Memphis Grizzlies will limp into Oracle Arena on Sunday without Mike Conley in uniform, presumably, which leaves them with zero chance to beat the Warriors in Game 1 of their playoff series. Conley and Tony Allen would have been a test for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in the backcourt, but Conley’s absence changes that considerably. The 6-foot-4 Allen is a better match against Thompson at off guard, which leaves the 32-year-old Udrih as the main cover on Curry, and he can’t stop a sneeze let alone the best shotmaker in the game.

Even with Conley in the lineup, the Warriors won the regular season series 2-1 and Andrew Bogut didn’t play in the game they lost.

“He’s up there,” Curry told Balls on Thursday when asked where Conley ranked defensively at his position. “He’s just crafty. He’s never out of a play. He’s got quick hands, and it seem like he never makes a mental mistake on that end of the floor. That’s what good defenders do.”

Other than Marc Gasol, perhaps, Conley is the guy the Grizzlies can least afford to lose right now.

“A great player,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr called him. “I think he’s an All-Star. Obviously, his absence is a big deal. I mean, if we lost Steph, it would be a big deal. [His absence] is similar in terms of the impact he makes as a point guard.”

On Monday, Conley had two plates and screws installed in his face to repair a fracture near his left eye, the result of an errant elbow last weekend. Typically, the injury requires four-to-six weeks to heal properly. He also has played on a bum foot in recent weeks.

Conley insists he’ll play in the series at some point, but he better hurry. This one has “Sweep!” written all over it.

HE’S BACK: Maybe general manager Trent Baalke didn’t appease some 49ers fans with his dice roll on Arik Armstead in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. But he did please the draftniks who had pegged the defensive end correctly in their mock drafts weeks earlier.

The biggest addition might have come earlier in the week, when linebacker NaVorro Bowman took part in a voluntary minicamp at Levi’s Stadium. It was his first action since he suffered a gruesome left knee injury in the 2014 NFC Championship Game.

I’m excited, man,” Bowman said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, but my knee’s feeling great.”

Whether or not Bowman will be the same player again won’t be known until the preseason. But for a defense that’s short on playmakers, his return is a welcomed sight, indeed.

ROB THE MAN: The average time of a Major League Baseball game dropped 8½ minutes in the first month of the season, the largest decrease in 52 years.

Which means Commissioner Rob Manfred has accomplished almost as much in three months as Bud Selig did in the previous 17 years.

THE LIST: Items left on Manfred’s to-do list:

1. Adopt some form of salary cap with a floor and a ceiling.

2. Dump the designated hitter in the American League.

3. Have every team play one doubleheader each month, begin the postseason one week earlier.

4. Move the Kansas City Royals to the World Wrestling Entertainment, bring back the Montreal Expos.

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? (A compliment?!?) Send them to pladewski@sfexaminer.com and you may get your name in the paper one day.
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