Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley went down in a heap Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers after catching an errant elbow to the face from C.J. McCollum while scrambling for a 50/50 ball. He was unable to return to action and was taken to a local medical facility.
Today, Conley had surgery to repair a facial fracture and will be out for Game 4 Monday and most likely longer. In fact, there is no timetable for his return, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, although team officials say it could take weeks. He’ll be re-evaluated in the next couple of days once he’s had time to recover.
The Grizzlies, who have dominated the series so far, appear poised to close out the Blazers even without Conley in the lineup, but a prolonged absence could have dire implications for a team that’s trying to seize the Western Conference crown and will have to go through Golden State to do so.
According to NBA.com, backup point guard Beno Udrih will start in Conley’s place after sitting out Game 3 with an ankle injury. Udrih lit up the Blazers in Game 1 with a 20-point explosion, but it was third string point guard Nick Calathes who stepped up in both of their absences Saturday with 13 points, three assists, and four rebounds in 26 minutes while committing zero turnovers.
Those two performances don’t bode well for the Blazers, who in both cases were unable to effectively exploit the Grizzlies’ banged up and depleted backcourt. They’ll have to be much more aggressive on Monday to stand even a slightly better chance of extending the series one more game and avoiding the sweep.