<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Mike Conley

Grizzlies’ point guard Mike Conley has sprained foot, could linger into playoffs

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Mike Conley is arguably the most underrated player in the NBA, an All-Star level point guard who plays in the shadow of Memphis’ massive front line of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. He is the perimeter balance to their outside game plus is an elite defender.

And he’s injured.

Conley sat out Friday night when the Grizzlies barely held on to beat the Jazz on the road. Officlally, Conley suffered a sprained right foot Wednesday night against the Pelicans, and it’s something that could have Conley sitting the rest of the regular season. It could linger and impact him come the playoffs.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Conley said the injury feel like he’s constantly walking on a golf ball. There is inflammation and swelling above the plantar fasciitis, making it so Conley can’t put much pressure on his right foot or run and jump effectively.

There also is a notion that Conley could miss the Grizzlies’ final three regular-season games – something Conley hoping isn’t the case.

“I don’t want to shut down. I’d like to be playing and in a rhythm going into the playoffs as opposed to sitting,” Conley said. “But I’ve a had a bad little stretch with injuries. I don’t know what the smart thing to do is but I’m going to do the right thing for myself and the team.”

More than a sprain, that sounds a little like plantar fasciitis. Something that would linger into the playoffs and impact Conley.

Memphis is currently the two seed in the West but is just half a game up on San Antonio, one up on Houston and the Los Angeles Clippers. They are already without Tony Allen, their best perimeter defender, and missing Conley as well for the remaining three games of the regular season could see them fall down the standings.

But if Conley and Allen are not ready and close to 100 percent for the playoffs the Grizzlies could be one and done. They could be anyway, a number of people around the league see the Grizzlies’ success as matchup dependent — if they stay the two seed and get Dallas they likely advance, get the Clippers or Spurs and they may be in big in trouble.

Especially if Conley and Allen are not 100 percent. And they may well not be.

Andrew Wiggins steals ball, starts break, dunks on two Lakers (VIDEO)

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
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That is your future Rookie of the Year.

Andrew Wiggins has been a scoring machine of late, and that continued Friday night when he dropped 29 on the Lakers. Wiggins was aggressive all game, and it showed here with the steal, he brings it up himself in transition, then just goes to the rim no matter how many Lakers are there. And he can finish.

The Lakers went on to win the game in the battle of lottery teams.

Jrue Holiday returns to Pelicans’ lineup Friday, on minutes restriction

New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings
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The last time we saw Jrue Holiday on the court it was Jan. 12. Back then, he was key to the Pelicans’ backcourt averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 assists a game, plus he was shooting 36.7 percent from three. Even more than that, he’s a quality defender that the Pelicans need on the perimeter.

However, a “stress reaction” in his right leg sidelined him for more than three months.

Friday night Holiday will be back albeit in a limited role. Coach Monty Williams said this at shootaround, as reported on the Pelicans’ official site.

“He won’t be playing more than 15 minutes a game for the rest of the season,” Williams said. “Unless he feels better and we feel like he’s not in harm’s way – then we’ll increase it. But I doubt that he’ll get to his normal minute allotment. Jrue’s a guy who can play 35 to 40 minutes a night, but he won’t get to that.”

 

Holiday likely takes minutes away from Toney Douglass and Norris Cole. That’s an upgrade.

In Holiday’s absence the Pelicans have transformed — Tyreke Evans is the guy with the ball in his hands more — but they have battled back and are currently the eighth seed in the West. They are tied with Oklahoma City, but the Pelicans have the tie breaker.

Holiday returns against Phoenix, a team with a quality backcourt where his defense could be useful. The Pelicans need wins to stay in the playoff mix.

Blake Griffin says he’d give MVP to James Harden

Donatas Motiejunas, Blake Griffin, James Harden
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My sense among media members is that Stephen Curry is going to win the MVP award. It’s close, but talking to people I think that’s where the majority of votes would go.

My sense is that players are leaning toward James Harden. Blake Griffin is the latest in the list of players to back the Rockets’ star, with the theory that he had to do more to carry the Rockets to a top playoff seed. Hat tip to the LA Times for the video.

Which will make it interesting when the players vote for their own awards at the end of the season. There probably aren’t going to be radical differences, but who ends up on top of the MVP ballot may be one of them.

Trail Blazers’ Arron Afflalo out 1-2 weeks with shoulder strain

New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers
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It didn’t look like much when it happened; it was just Portland’s Arron Afflalo fighting for post position with Golden State’s Stephen Curry. But it ended up being fairly serious.

Afflalo left the game at the time with shoulder/triceps pain, and today’s MRI did not bring great news.

That means Afflalo’s regular season is done. However I’d expect to see him back when the playoffs start in just more than a week (April 18). Guys play through pain when the postseason starts. That said, this likely doesn’t impact the Trail Blazers much in playoff positioning, they are pretty locked into the four seed (as winners of the Northwest Division they can fall no lower) but will not have home court in the first round.

Afflalo has been starting with in place of the injured Wes Matthews. With him out expect C.J. McCollum to start and get a lot of run, with Allen Crabbe and Alonzo Gee getting some run.