The Western Conference playoffs might not be the gauntlet we expected.
Sure, it’s still a very strong field, but it won’t be filled with eight dominant teams.
The Trail Blazers are stumbling with Wesley Matthews and maybe Dorell Wright out for the season and Arron Afflalo also sidelined. The Mavericks haven’t clicked with Rajon Rondo. The Thunder – if they even make it – aren’t a historically dangerous No. 8 seed without Kevin Durant (not to mention Serge Ibaka’s own injury troubles). The Pelicans would be a good, though hardly vaunted, No. 8 seed.
And the Grizzlies’ starters haven’t thrived with Jeff Green. Another problem in Memphis: Injuries to Mike Conley and Tony Allen.
Ronald Tilley of The Commercial Appeal:
If Conley (foot) and Allen (hamstring) can’t play or even are significantly limited, it’s very difficult to see the Grizzlies winning a series.
Conley is a near-All-Star who steadies them on both ends, and Allen is a defensive force. No combination of Courtney Lee, Beno Udrih, Nick Calathes and Vince Carter can match those two.
Memphis, after playing the Pacers tonight, will begin postseason play Saturday or Sunday. Is that enough time for Conley and Allen to recover? It’s a huge question for the Grizzlies’ playoff chances.