The Western Conference team had lost their star center Marc Gasol for almost two months. Those two months nearly eliminated the Grizzlies from playoff contention, but then the big man returned, sparking a run into eighth place for Memphis. But bad news never trails too far behind and is always prepared to strike. Based on the way the season has gone, the Grizzlies should have known something bad was bound to happen.
And so it did. Down went Mike Conley Jr. with a sprained ankle, with his preliminary recovery time being over a week or so. Memphis was able to overcome the Milwaukee Bucks, but the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks proved to be much stiffer competition. Both teams defeated the Grizzlies as they fell to 1-2 without Conley.
With Tony Allen already out, the Memphis backcourt is incredibly thin and has very little to work with at the point guard position. It is unclear when either Allen or Conley will return and that does not bode well for the Grizzlies, who have fallen behind the eighth-place Mavs after losing to them on Wednesday night by a score of 110-96.
It may be time for damage control, at least until the All-Star break. Memphis could really use the extra time to rest Conley and Allen while not losing ground on the West postseason race. Assuming that Conley and Allen will both return after the All-Star break, the Grizzlies should be able to maintain pace with the Mavs for eighth.
Memphis will face the Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic before the break. All four of those matchups are winnable games for Memphis, even without Conley or Allen. If they can make it through the next two weeks while avoiding a major breakdown, Memphis should be able to weather the storm and stay on track for the playoffs.
Shane Phillips is an NBA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneRantNBA, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com.