The Memphis Grizzlies will be without starting point guard Mike Conley, Jr. in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 27 after he sustained a facial injury when the Blazers' C.J. McCollum inadvertently elbowed him in Game 3.
The Memphis Grizzlies will be without starting point guard Mike Conley, Jr. for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 27.
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This is because Conley sustained several facial fractures after Blazers guard C.J. McCollum inadvertently hit him with an elbow after the two dived for a loose ball in the final four minutes of the the third quarter of Game 3. Conley will now undergo facial surgery near his left eye, per Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commerical Appeal.
Conley "appeared disoriented for several minutes" before the Grizzlies' trainers accompanied him to the locker room. They then took him to a Portland-area hospital a few moments later, per Tillery.
Tillery adds a set timetable for Conley's return has yet to be determined. His Grizzlies teammates visited him in Portland berfore he flew back to Oregon. He told them he felt sore.
Nonetheless, Conley remained posiitve, saying "I'll be good" in a text message he sent to The Memphis Commerical Appeal on Sunday. Beno Udrih, who missed Game 3 with a sprained right ankle, and Nick Calathes will split minutes at the 1-spot on Monday against Portland.
"With another day of rest it's improved a lot," Udrih told ESPN's Michael Wallace on April 26.
Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph told Wallace he and his teammates need Calathes, who wound up with 13 points and three assists in Conley's absence on Saturday, to play as well as he has been:
"For Nick to just be ready like that is big. This league is about being ready, so when your number is called, you should already be ready. That's what I've been telling the young fellas."
Wallace emphasizes Conley's head injury could possibly place him under the NBA's concussion protocol, which requires concered players to pass several strict evaluations and tests before they are allowed to take the court again.
Injuries have been nothing new for Conley this season.
Tillery stresses Conley already had been dealing with a sprained right foot before he got elbowed in the face on Saturday. Prior to these, he endured two ankle sprains, a wrist injury as well as neck and back spasms.
Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger told The Memphis Commercial Appeal on Sunday losing Conley is "a big blow":
"He's got the biggest heart and he's a true leader. He's a winner. It's a big blow, but we'll know a lot more tomorrow.
"Everybody has to just pick it up and there has to be a little bit more focus in every single area. Every possession is going to matter."
For his part, Memphis center Marc Gasol remained upbeat about Conley's predicament, per Tillery:
"It's unfortunate what happened, but he will be fine. I'm sure as soon as he feels he can be out there, he'll be out there. Trust me. He'll do anything he can to be out there. And if he can't, he can't.
"I was with him (Sunday) morning. He'll be fine. There's nothing we can do about his look. But he'll heal."
The Grizzlies beat the Blazers, 115-109, on April 25 to up their series lead to 3-0, per The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Tillery says if the Memphis-Portland series concludes in six games or fewer, the winner will advance to the second round against the Golden State Warriors on May 2. Should there be a Game 7, the second-round series against the Warriors will commence on May 5.
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