All-Star Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has suffered a bone bruise in his right knee and is considered “doubtful” to play for the rest of the NBA playoffs, the team announced in a press release. Memphis anticipates that Morant will fully recover from the injury during the 2022 offseason.
How long the playoffs are going to last for Memphis had already been an open question after a Morant-less version of the team fell to the Warriors in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Monday night. Golden State currently leads Memphis 3-1.
With Morant now sidelined, the Warriors seem primed to make their first Conference Finals since 2019. Granted, the Stephen Curry-led Warriors have memorably surrendered a 3-1 series edge once before, but the odds of that happening without the opposing team’s best player seem slim.
Morant had by far been the Grizzlies’ top scorer in the series, averaging 38.3 PPG on 50.6% field goal shooting, plus 8.3 APG and 6.7 RPG in his three healthy games.
This had been a special season for Morant. In addition to making his first All-Star team, the 6’3″ third-year point guard was recently honored as the 2021/22 Most Improved Player after guiding Memphis to a 56-26 record and the No. 2 seed in the West. Across 57 healthy regular season games for Memphis, Morant averaged 27.4 PPG, 6.7 APG and 5.7 RPG, with shooting splits of .493/.344/.761.
The former Murray State guard left during the final quarter of Game 3 (another Warriors win) due to what at the time was deemed to be right knee soreness. Additional imaging conducted by the Grizzlies later revealed the bone bruise.
Game 5 in the series will be played in Memphis on Wednesday, presumably with backup point guard Tyus Jones continuing to start for Morant.