“One Eyed Charlie”, “First Team All Defense” Shake Up Series

Posted on May 27, 2015


An attempt to put Game 2 in the context of Grizzlies history, and how it positions the team going forward for the rest of the series:


Tony Allen produced some all-time Grindfather moments, including dubbing masked Mike Conley as “One Eyed Charlie”, and the Grizzlies turned a best of 7 series against the title favorite Warriors upside down. Why is Tony Allen not mic’d up for every game?

The buzz surrounding Mike Conley’s status ahead of game 2 was thought to give clarity as to how many games the Grizzlies could delay an inevitable series defeat. No one gave Memphis a chance in this series, much less on the night Stephen Curry was recognized as league MVP before another sellout crowd inside Oracle Arena.

Mike Conley responded by possessing the opening tip and making his first four shots. He finished the game with 22 points on 8-12 shooting (3-6 from 3) and 3 assists in 27 minutes of action.
Mike was effective, efficient and clutch, making some of the most critical plays down the stretch. With the Grizzlies leading 87-80 and 2:11 remaining in the 4th quarter, Conley nailed a 3 from the right wing extending the lead to 10. Then, with a 92-85 advantage and under a minute remaining, Conley was cool and collected, as usual, and found Courtney Lee unguarded at the rim for a layup with 40.8 seconds remaining. Lee’s score left no doubt, and the Grizzlies finished off Golden State 97-90.

Regardless of how the series finishes, game 2 instantly registers as one of the great performances in franchise history. Other images come to mind, such as Shane Battier’s game 1 winner against the Spurs in 2011, or Zach Randolph’s unconscious 4th quarter to close out San Antonio in game 6 of the same series, or Zach’s ejection in a closeout game 6 against the Clippers in 2013. Whatever your personal favorite may be, game 2 against the Warriors definitely makes the list.

It was a multi-faceted spectacle. On the most basic level, the Grizzlies won a playoff game on the road in a series in which they trailed. Then, factor in that the opponent was the Golden State Warriors who boast the league’s best regular season record, the MVP, and arguably the best home court advantage. Memphians do argue that last point, that’s for sure. And then there was Mike Conley. A mere 8 days after surgery to repair facial fractures, Conley returned to action, with a mask, and led the Grizzlies from start to finish.

And there was also Tony Allen, aka “First Team All Defense” as the world now knows. Tony doesn’t pick people’s pockets; he steals their souls and that of anyone they hold near and dear in their hearts.

The first of two memorable examples came when Klay Thompson grabbed a rebound off a missed Z-Bo jumper and started a fast-break down court. He approached the free throw line when he was swallowed by a black hole, which spit Klay and the ball in opposite directions. Tony Allen was the black hole. Allen went down to his knees to snatch the ball and remained on the ground, sprawled out across the free throw line. He yelled “First Team All-Defense” three times before he found his point to be clear.
charlie 2
Then, with under 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, Allen honed in on a Curry pass intended for Thompson and slapped it out of the air. He took off down court and jammed it home. He seized another campaigning opportunity and gave his First Team All-Defense pitch once more.

Tony also walks through things, like junior dance team routines, because he’s Tony Allen and he does what he wants.

Conley is the straw that stirs the drink for the Grizzlies. Even if he isn’t able to continue scoring like he did in game 2, his wherewithal running the offense and defensive prowess will be enough to put the Grizzlies in a position to win games.

Now, the series shifts to Memphis where 3 of the next 4 games will be played. Game 3 is pivotal as the Grizzlies have the opportunity to seize a 2-1 lead and retain home court advantage. There are many keys going forward, including defending the three point line, securing rebounds to eliminate extra possessions for Golden State, and limiting turnovers. Fans know that the Core Four will bring their best effort, so Courtney Lee must continue to produce, and it would be a much welcomed sight to see players like Jeff Green and Vince Carter provide an offensive boost.

Expect bedlam inside FedEx Forum on Saturday night, and a very warm welcome to Draymond Green.

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