MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger insists he’s not protecting or hiding Mike Conley or Tony Allen.
He said both are hurt and were unable to play in Memphis’ last game, even if it had been the playoffs.
Well, the postseason has arrived, and the Grizzlies can only hope having three days off before hosting Portland on Sunday night helps heal everyone’s aches and pains.
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Allen, the Grizzlies’ defensive whiz, has missed nine straight games since hurting his left hamstring March 27 against Golden State. Conley has missed four games with a sprained right foot. Marc Gasol sprained his left ankle last weekend but seems OK after scoring a career-high 33 points with 13 rebounds Wednesday night to help clinch home-court advantage in the postseason.
”We’ve been playing fairly hard,” Joerger said. ”We’ve played some tough teams with half of our starting roster. It is what it is. Hopefully, we can get healthy and continue to play hard and really focus in.”
The Grizzlies were 3-2 in their last five games, and with the Western Conference so tightly contested they slid from No. 2 to the fifth seed. Missing Allen’s defense has not helped. He averaged 2.05 steals while playing only 26.2 minutes per game, and he was the only player in the league with six or more steals in at least three games.
But Allen was injured in the third quarter of a home loss to the Warriors and has not played since. Conley is Memphis’ third leading scorer while running the offense. He played only 70 games this season with this injury only his latest.
Joerger made it clear Wednesday night that he wasn’t simply holding out either Allen or Conley. He also didn’t share a timetable for either to return.
”If they cannot play, then they do not play,” Joerger said.
Gasol hurt his ankle early in a loss at the Clippers last weekend. He looked healthy as ever in Wednesday night’s win against Indiana clinching home court and finished the regular season leading Memphis with 17.4 points per game.
Jeff Green has been a regular on the Grizzlies’ injury report with tightness in his lower back, even as he averaged 15 points a game. Zach Randolph played in 71 games and averaging a double-double with 16.1 points and 10.5 rebounds. He’s not talking about how he feels going into the postseason against the team that drafted him 19th overall in 2011.
”I’m not going to complain,” Randolph said. ”If I am hurt, you won’t know it.”
The playoff schedule might help the Grizzlies heal up a bit. They play only twice over the next week, and guards Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes have been filling in for Conley and Allen.
The Grizzlies turned in the second best record in franchise history at 55-27, and this is their fifth straight playoff appearance with Allen and Conley joining Randolph and Gasol as the key players in each of those seasons. Randolph said that experience definitely will help.
”It’s not going to be easy,” Randolph said. ”Home court is home court, but it’s not home court unless you make it home court. If (Trail Blazers) come in and get a game, it’s not home court. We’ve got to come out and play our game.”