Following his team's 99-93 victory over the Thunder in Game 2 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Memphis defensive ace and former Oklahoma State standout Tony Allen once again was bragging about point guard teammate Mike Conley, who finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“Mike Conley is now one of the top five point guards in the league, whether anybody likes it or not,” said Allen, who had five steals in Tuesday's contest. “I know a lot of people have got their favorites on who they think it should be, but Mike Conley is in that conversation now, being able to do these types of things on the court night in and night out.”
Allen's post-game speech actually was a continuation of a pre-game speech he gave about Conley on Sunday morning before Game 1.
“He's Top 5. Top 5 now,” Allen said of Conley, his voice rising. “Ever since the All-Star Break, I don't see nobody playing better than him consistently and winning like him.
“Mike Conley has got to be up there now with (Boston's) Rajon Rondo being out. (Brooklyn's) Deron Williams just went fishin'. Steve Nash of the Los Angeles Lakers), he went fishin'. He (Conley) had to get over that battle (against the Clippers' Chris Paul) to get into the conversation. (The Thunder's Russell) Westbrook is out.”
Allen was asked about Golden State's Stephen Curry. “He's not a point guard, he a shooting guard,” Allen said. “He's just in a point guard's body.”
Allen said the key for Conley's ascent was beating Paul in the first round.
“He (Conley) had the monkey on his back for a long time,” Allen said “Now he's grown into being one of the forces. Man, Chris Paul used to get the best of him. I don't want to say he (Conley) got the best of him (Paul), but he was able to compete with him on a high level.”
Allen was assigned to defend Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha, who has improved immensely as a shooter the last couple years, but rarely has drawn the other team's top perimeter defender.