MEMPHIS, Tenn. —
Part of his learning curve also included not getting too excited with the clock running down and the team needing a key bucket.
“I think that’s helped me be more calm down the stretch and realizing situations and being patient,” Conley said Thursday after practice.
He started blossoming as a key scorer since the All-Star break. Conley led the Grizzlies after the break with the best scoring stretch of his career as he led the team in scoring 10 of their final 17 games. He scored at least 20 points in 12 of those games, averaging 17.6 points in March and 17 in April.
It’s why Allen believes Conley is among the league’s top five point guards.
“He’s been doing everything,” Allen said. “Assists, points, rebounds, steals and most importantly he’s winning.”
Conley definitely has been more aggressive.
Grizzlies center Marc Gasol said Conley doesn’t have to take 20 shots a game, though the guard hit 11 of 22 from the floor in Game 2. Coming off screens and forcing the Thunder defense to play honest also is a big part of what they need.
“I’m really proud of him, but we’re not satisfied. I’m not,” Gasol said. “The one position to me, one of the toughest ones to play because everyone’s always looking up to you, and we put a lot of pressure, at least I am, I put a lot of pressure on Mike and I’m really hard on Mike a lot of times. But he knows I love him, and he’s always the best and I expect more.”
The Thunder saw Conley in 2011 when these teams went seven games in the Western semifinals before Oklahoma City won. Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison said Conley has gotten better since then. He sees Conley being aggressive in his decisions passing off pick-and-rolls or attacking when Gasol and Randolph draw more attention.