OAKLAND – Mike Conley’s masked return in Game 2 last week was just what the doctor ordered for Memphis, which became just the third team to beat the Warriors in their own building this season.
Conley was the star of the Grizzlies’ 97-90 win, scoring 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting in just over 27 minutes of play in a remarkable performance just eight days after his face was surgically repaired.
Since then, though, it hasn’t been nearly as smooth for the point guard. In the past two games, the 27-year-old has found the mark on just seven of his 25 shots, scoring a combined 21 points.
In Game 4, Conley was just 4-for-15 from the field for 10 points and 7 assists as the Warriors handled Memphis with relative ease in tying the second round series at two games apiece.
“He’s exhausted,” coach Dave Joerger said. “You can’t help but lose some conditioning when you’re not able to do anything for the amount of time that he did. He has to dribble 99 percent of the dribbles that we make. Meanwhile, a [six-foot-seven] guy is right there on him. It does wear a guy out.”
Joerger indicated that Memphis’ shootaround on Tuesday was optional after a four-hour flight following Game 3, but Conley was seen walking out to the floor shortly after the Grizzlies head coach spoke with the media.
The Warriors upped their defensive play in Game 3, including getting Klay Thompson matched up on Conley.
Joerger was asked how much Conley’s offensive struggles in Game 3 were because of Thompson, and how much is due to his ongoing recovery.
“You certainly saw a rush of adrenaline basically, a guy coming off of a hospital bed situation in Game 2,” Joerger said. “We put so much pressure on him to make a play for us."
“[The Warriors] do a great job. They’re long, and jamming up the paint. We have got to make some plays from the perimeter to make them come out."
Joerger didn’t want to elaborate on how his team is feeling overall headed into Wednesday’s vital Game 5.
“I didn’t talk to them on the plane,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot of battles.”