The Grizzlies won their third in a row last night at Minnesota, the third game in four nights, and they're now only one win away from sweeping their entire four-game-in-five-night gauntlet of a week.
In the fourth quarter last night, after surrendering a lead that had swelled to 16 points midway through the third, the Grizzlies stared down the barrel of their worst-case scenario when Mike Conley went down to the floor grimacing in pain and didn't get up.
The replays showed that it was a badly rolled ankle—Conley landed on the side of his foot instead of the bottom of it, essentially—and news coming out after the game confirmed that it was a bad sprain:
Update- Mike Conley has a right ankle sprain and will be reevaluated in the morning. @memgrizz vs. Bucks tomorrow
— Rob Fischer (@thefishnation) February 1, 2014
Mike Conley left 94-90 win over Minnesota with a right ankle sprain and 6:37 left in 4Q. He will be re-evaluated tomorrow before Bucks game
— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) February 1, 2014
Further reports were that Conley left the arena in a walking boot and said he couldn't really put any weight on the ankle, which means he'll probably be in a suit tonight as the Grizzlies take on Mikwaukee. With any luck, his evaluation today will confirm that it is, in fact, just a bum ankle, and Conley won't miss too much time.
Missing any time at all, though, puts the Grizzlies in a little bit of a jam. The Nick Calathes experiment seems to be progressing nicely as Calathes has gotten more run and gotten more comfortable on the court. He had another nice night in Minnesota last night, but he certainly doesn't look ready to take over the team for a long stretch. And, because of the trade that sent Jerryd Bayless out and brought back Courtney Lee, there aren't any other point guards on the roster.
That was risky even with a healthy Conley, but now, with Nick Calathes as the only point guard available, things are going to get dicey. Last night after Conley went down, with the game on the line, Dave Joerger decided not to play a point guard at all, splitting the ball handling duties between Courtney Lee and Tayshaun Prince. And that worked, primarly because the Grizzlies' advantage over the Timberwolves was on the inside, and helped by the occasional three-pointer from Prince, everything went according to plan and the Grizzlies closed out a close game that Kevin Love shot Minnesota back into.
Tonight, the Grizzlies take on the Bucks in Memphis in the last game of this FOGAFINI. The Bucks are, well, I'll let Jeremy Schmidt of the TrueHoop blog Bucksketball give his take:
I'm starting to wonder if this is the worst team in the history of professional sports in Wisconsin.
— Jeremy Schmidt (@Bucksketball) February 1, 2014
So, at least the Grizzlies have that going for them: the Bucks are currently 8-38 on the season, and they've lost 5 in a row and 17 out of their last 19 games. They're a shambles of a basketball team right now, with only rookie standout Giannis "Greek Freak" Antetokounmpo to entertain their fans while they get pummeled, night in and night out. If there's such thing as a "good" game to have to be without Mike Conley, this is it—a matchup against what may be the worst team in the league this year.
But that doesn't mean much. The Bucks are, after all, still a professional basketball team, and tonight's game may be one of the few games on the schedule that O.J. Mayo actually cares about for Milwaukee, so I hesitate to ever call anything a "sure win." There's no such thing at this level of competition. At any rate, it's a fortunate matchup for the Grizzlies as they try to figure out how long they're going to be without their rock, their starting point guard.