If the Memphis Grizzlies escape from a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals, they’ll likely have to do it without the help of franchise star Ja Morant.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Grizzlies said Wednesday Morant sustained a “bone bruise in his knee and is doubtful for the remainder of the playoffs.”
Grizzlies say Ja Morant has bone bruise in his knee and is doubtful for remainder of the playoffs.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 10, 2022
Morant suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Memphis’ 142-112 blowout loss to Golden State in Game 3 on Saturday.
This news breaks during a series already steeped in controversy surrounding injuries and fouls. In Game 2, Memphis forward Dillon Brooks was ejected in the opening minutes for a Flagrant foul 2. Brooks clubbed Warriors guard Gary Payton II in the head with his right arm while trying to stop a breakaway layup. The play resulted in a fractured elbow for Payton II and a one-game suspension for Brooks.
In the presser after the game, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters Brooks “broke the code” of player safety when he committed the foul.
Following his injury in Game 3, Morant referenced Kerr’s postgame comments in a since-deleted tweet. The tweet showed video of Warriors guard Jordan Poole grabbing Morant’s knee while swiping for the ball during Game 3 and included the caption, “broke the code.”
Going back to Game 1, Warriors forward Draymond Green was ejected in the second quarter following a Flagrant foul 2 against Memphis forward Brandon Clarke. On the play, Green whacked Clarke’s face and pulled him down by the jersey.
Already facing a difficult deficit, the loss of Morant makes Memphis’ playoff chances bleaker. The 2022 Most Improved Player, Morant, was enjoying a career year during his third season in the NBA. He averaged 27.4 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.7 rebounds, while guiding Memphis to a 56-26 record and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. In February, Morant, 22, also made his first All-Star appearance as a starter for Team Durant.
During the playoffs, the electrifying point guard averaged 27.1 points, 9.8 assists, and 8.0 rebounds through nine games. In Game 2 against Golden State, Morant unleashed a 47-point performance in Memphis’ 106-101 win, closing out the Warriors in the clutch with 18 fourth quarter points.
Without Morant Monday night in Game 4, Memphis lost a 101-98 nail-biter.
Game 5 in Memphis is scheduled for Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time.