The Spurs defensive strategy in Game 1 against the Grizzlies was clear — stop Mike Conley. From the second quarter on the point guard —
From the second quarter on the point guard — a guy who lived up to a huge off-season contract, even if he again didn’t make the All-Star team — saw a steady diet of Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and at times Jonathon Simmons (an underrated defender). The result was Conley went 5-of-14 shooting the rest of the way, with seven assists, numbers not good enough for Memphis to beat San Antonio. Gregg Popovich even said postgame he was willing to let Marc Gasol score more than Conley, the point guard was the top priority.
“Didn’t sleep really, man,” he said. “It felt like a done-for-the-year type of loss.”
That said, Conley said he’s prepared for Game 2 Monday night.
“I’m ready,” he said, quietly. “I’m ready for Game 2….
“We knew coming in he was going to key on one guy,” Conley said. “Different years, it’s been different people. So it’s my first time having to deal with it, honestly, so I’m going to figure it out.”
The Grizzlies can use Conley in different actions, get him moving off the ball and getting screens to get him some space when he does get it to operate. No doubt coach David Fizdale put those in.
However, the reality is much simpler: The other Grizzlies need to make the Spurs pay for their attention to Conley. From the second quarter on Saturday, Grizzlies not named Conley or Gasol shot 31.9 percent from the floor. As a team after the first quarter, the Grizzlies shot 37.1 percent inside eight feet and were 4-of-13 from the midrange. As a team the Grizzlies shot 40.6 percent on uncontested shots in Game 1. That’s simply not good enough.