Tony Parker claims San Antonio need to be wary of Mike Conley if they are to overcome the challenge of Memphis ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.
Speaking after practice, Parker said: “(Conley) is a very underrated player and for me is in the top 10 for best point guards in the league!”
“He makes it happen for them, he’s a great shooter, has great penetration and you have to respect him.”
The Memphis point guard led his side to a 4-2 series victory over the number 1 seeded Oklahoma in the conference semi-finals, averaging 18.0 ppg; 6.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists.
Conley has been with the Grizzlies since 2007 and recorded his best points total/average in the regular season whilst making 100+ 3-pointers in a season for the first time having started in all 80 of his appearances. His next challenge comes in the form of one of the most experienced guards in the league.
Parker was the finals MVP in 2007 which was the last time San Antonio won the NBA Championship and the French international is also wary of the inside threat of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
“Obviously, we have to stop Gasol and Randolph but Mike Conley is a huge part of what they do. We need a lot of help on defence to stop them inside and we need to make sure we control the ball to limit turnovers,” the 31 year-old added.
The season head-to-head was tied at 2-2 with Parker scoring 30 points on two occasions while two games went to overtime as both teams were victorious at home. The Spurs were defeated 4-2 by the Grizzlies two years ago and also blew home court advantage in the conference finals against OKC last year, something they will want to avoid.
“It’s been a motivation for us since training camp and we have home court advantage again against a good team so we need to make the most of the opportunity,” said Parker.
Memphis have never reached the NBA Finals having only been in the league since 1995 while San Antonio have won all 4 of their NBA Championships since 1999. Parker v Conley will definitely be a key match-up as will the inside battle between the duo of Z-Bo & Gasol up against Tim Duncan and the help defence. Coach Gregg Popovich will also be hoping for further impact from Manu Ginobili off the bench.