Conley, Grizzlies remain iffy proposition 

click to enlarge Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, left, is hoping to play in tonight’s Game 2 against the Warriors, but he has not been given the go-ahead by the team’s medical staff. - DON RYAN/AP FILE PHOTO
  • Don Ryan/AP file photo
  • Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, left, is hoping to play in tonight’s Game 2 against the Warriors, but he has not been given the go-ahead by the team’s medical staff.

Whatever hope the Memphis Grizzlies had in the Western Conference semifinals against the Warriors came in the form of an cautiously optimistic, four-word declaration Monday.

"I believe I will," floor leader Mike Conley said of his playing status in tonight's Game 2 at Oracle Arena.

Whether or not the opinion was shared by the higher-ups was unclear, however. Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger, following practice at the Olympic Club, maintained that Conley's status was doubtful, saying the medical staff had yet to green-light his return, although the veteran said he had been cleared to play.

Should Joerger's words before Sunday's 101-86 Warriors victory still mean anything, one would be wise to bet against Conley playing any time soon. He was barely a week removed from two plates being surgically inserted in his face, which was fractured by a stray elbow in the first round.

"When he walks out and shoots baskets before practice and there's six or seven balls bouncing, it makes me very nervous," Joerger said, while later comparing his guard's head temperature to that of an extremely hot thermometer. "Taking one of those off his dome probably wouldn't feel very good for him."

Without Conley, fear of basketballs bouncing in front of faces should be the least of the Grizzlies worries tonight. The Warriors' faithful will be on full-blast fever pitch when Stephen Curry is presented the Most Valuable Player trophy, which he was awarded on Monday.

"[Curry] can shoot the ball pretty good and he got a nice handle," Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen said. "But it ain't nothing I ain't never seen before."

Joerger's side may draw on reasons for optimism from Game 1, including limiting easy scoring chances for Curry and Klay Thompson in the first half and forcing six Warriors turnovers in the first quarter. Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green each picked up three first-half fouls, which took Marc Gasol to the free throw lines 12 times.

Green, for one, maintained he would be on high-alert defensively, knowing the need to stay on the floor to tangle with the Grizzlies' big men.

"I got to kind of take the cheap ones out," Green said. "May have to give up a bucket here and there rather than fouling ... pick and choose my spots better."

And yet the Grizzlies still fell by 15 points in a game that rarely felt much closer than that.

After the loss, Joerger and Gasol made clear their desire to assert their dominance attacking in the post more.

"That's what I thought we would do going into this game," Gasol said.

Said Joerger: "That's who we are. We try to play through our bigs as much as possible anyways, and that's our identity.

"We settled for a lot of jump shots. We did not create shots for each other except for our bigs. Our bigs did a nice job of hitting cutters and kicking out when they had the opportunity. ... We've got to move the basketball and screen a lot harder and then get it inside into a deeper spot when we can."

Those are a lot of ifs for an undermanned Grizzlies team, and none will be bigger than Conley's status in the next few hours.

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Jack Ross

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