Marc Spears: ‘Conley Is Most Underrated Player In NBA’

The Memphis Grizzlies didn’t put up much of a fight in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday. Yes, with Mike Conley missing his third straight game since suffering a facial injury in Game 3 of Memphis’ first-round playoff series against Portland, the Grizzlies had no answer for the best team in basketball, losing to Golden State, 101-86.

Conley sat on the sidelines throughout the game, clearly bothered by the lights and sounds of raucous ORACLE Arena.

“I talked to Mike Conley and he didn’t look good,” Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Marc Spears said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He doesn’t appear to be feeling good. I’d be really surprised if he even played in Game 2. I don’t even know why they even brought him on this trip. Maybe he (can provide) good moral support, but he looks like he’s in bad shape. It’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘Look, go get some rest.’ The lights are bothering him. The sound is bothering him. He basically kind of got on the floor and did some things, but when he’s shooting, his vision is a little impaired right now. It just doesn’t look good for him to just turn around and play on such a high level when he’s still recovering.

“So I think it probably would have been best to have him stay home and rest and try to get better and be ready for Game 3,” Spears said. “He said he was going to try to do some stuff tomorrow, but – look, I like Mike Conley a lot. I think he’s the most underrated player in the league, a brilliant guard on both ends. But it’s not worth it, in my opinion, for him to be out there.”

Memphis didn’t have much of a chance without Conley, especially at ORACLE, where the Warriors are now 42-2 this season. Stephen Curry scored a game-high 22 points, as Golden State shot 39-of-77 (50.6 percent) from the floor, including 13-of-28 (46.4 percent) from three.

It was a mismatch from start to finish.

What are the Grizzlies supposed to do now?

“Pray? Get Tony Allen to mess with little kids a little bit more?” Spears joked. “I don’t know. But I think it’s going to be tough because the Warriors did a great job – and I give Bob Myers, their GM, credit – for doing something that most teams haven’t done that counters Memphis. You got a healthy (Andrew) Bogut, a 7-footer, and another 7-footer in Festus Ezeli at the center spot. Are they better than Marc Gasol? Either player? No. Pound-for-pound, no. But basically, Marc Gasol is dealing with a clone size-wise the whole game. And then with (Zach Randolph), you got Draymond Green. You got (Marreese) Speights, who is used to playing against him when he played in Memphis. Then you got veteran David Lee. They just got too many weapons to counter their best strengths.”

Randolph and Gasol still combined for 41 points and 18 rebounds, but the Warriors made them earn it.

“You’re not going to stop (Randolph). You’re not going to stop Gaosl,” Spears said. “But (the Warriors) got something to kind of keep them at bay. If there’s no Conley going there and (Jeff) Green’s just playing okay, they’re in trouble.”

Especially since the Warriors have Curry, who, according to reports, is expected to be named league MVP.

“I’m trying to get some final confirmations, but from what I’ve heard, it wasn’t close, which kind of was a surprise to me,” Spears said. “That shows a lot of respect for Curry. James Harden had a fantastic season. I don’t want to take anything away from that, but I did vote for Steph Curry. I put a lot of emphasis on winning – and not that Houston didn’t win, but the Warriors were fantastic the entire season. I picked them to win it, but I know most didn’t and I’m not saying that they will.

“But for them to do what they did, to be so dominant in the Western Conference – I mean, it wasn’t even close between them and the second-place team, and the second-place team was Houston, who they swept. Curry led all that. Curry had a lot of fantastic moments and Curry sat out a lot of fourth quarters because he sparked them just beating everybody down. I know why there were people who voted for James Harden for sure, but I think Steph Curry deserved it.”

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