Prior to Game 5 in OKC, Mike Conley told the media that his Memphis Grizzlies weren’t afraid of the moment. Conley wasn’t lying — the Grizz sent the OKC Thunder home for the summer, advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Allen atoned for his costly gaffe in the third quarter, putting the clamps on Kevin Durant down the stretch and nailing clutch free throws to seal the deal.
Per the Commercial Appeal:
“It’s surreal,” said Mike Conley. “It’s crazy to see it all come together.” Start with a point guard who was supposed to be a bust. Add a power forward who was supposed to be a problem child. Mix in a chunky younger brother, and a coach who couldn’t get a break and, c’mon, who would believe this stuff? Oh, and add a wild man from the Boston Celtics. A guy who lives for defense. A man who makes two great plays for every bad one, but, boy, he sure makes the bad ones.
Conley summed it up neatly. “Tony Allen saved us,” he said. Allen saved them from having to return to Memphis to play Game 6. He saved them from having to listen to the voices of doom. “This is a different team,” said Conley. “The heart of this team is amazing.” Conley couldn’t stop smiling the whole time he talked. He was with the Grizzlies in the bad old days. He looked around the happy locker room. […] “I don’t want to look back,” said Conley. “I don’t ever want to go back. This right here is better.”
The gritty 88-84 win was symbolic of Memphis’ success this season — behind a bruising defense and dominant post play, the Grizzlies overwhelmed OKC.
And now they’re quite possibly the favorites to make it out of the West, and into the NBA Finals.