The Memphis Grizzlies trail the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in the Western Conference semifinals and, although they have Game 5 at home in Memphis, it looks like All-Star point guard Ja Morant won’t play due to a knee injury.
The Grizzlies went 20-5 during the regular season without Morant in the lineup, but they lost Game 4 of this series with him on the bench.
The Grizzlies opened as a +3 home dog, but the line moved to +4 when word got out that Morant has a bone bruise and might not play against the Warriors in Game 5. There’s also a good chance that Morant is out for the rest of the postseason.
Referee assignments for Game 5 of Warriors/Grizzlies includes crew chief Zach Zarba, along with Tony Brothers, Jacyn Goble, and Bill Kennedy.
|#3 Golden State Warriors (3-1) at #2 Memphis Grizzlies (1-3)|
- Tip-off: 6:30 pm PT
- Location: FedEx Forum, Memphis
- Point Spread: GSW -4
- Total: 218.5 o/u
- Money Line: MEM +150 / GSW -170
The Warriors are -5000 odds to lock up the series and advance to the Western Conference finals. The Grizzlies are +1800 odds as a long shot to rally from behind and win three consecutive games to pull off a magical upset. The Warriors are -105 odds to win the Western Conference and advance to the NBA Finals. The Grizzlies are the long shot on DraftKings’ futures board at +5000 odds to win the conference crown.
The Warriors are the consensus betting favorite to win the 2022 NBA Championship at +220 odds, and the Grizzlies are the moon shot on the futures board at +10000 odds to win the title.
Grizzlies: no Ja, no chance?
Morant leads the Grizzlies with 27.1 points, 9.8 assists, 80 rebounds, and 2.0 steals per game in nine postseason games. In three games against the Warriors, Morant averages 38.3 ppg with a monstrous 47 points in a Game 2 victory.
Without Morant in Game 5, the Grizzlies will rely on their other starters to pick up the scoring slack. Desmond Bane averages 17.9 points in the postseason, including a blistering 46.7% from 3-point range. Jaren Jackson, Jr. averaged 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds in the playoffs. He’s shooting 37% from 3-point range, but had an awful Game 4 with a 0-for-7 clip.
Dillon Brooks averages 13.2 ppg, but he struggled in Game 4 after sitting out Game 3 due to a one-game suspension. Brooks unleashed a dirty, hard foul on Gary Payton II in Game 2 during a play where Payton fractured his left elbow and suffered ligament damage. With Game 4 in San Francisco, the Warriors’ fans booed Brooks every time he touched the ball. He scored just 12 points on 5-for-19 from the floor, including 2-for-9 from beyond the arc.
“He forced a couple,” said head coach Taylor Jenkins. “Obviously he’s been off for a couple of days, and trying to get his groove back.”
Tyus Jones is the next man up for the Grizzlies in Game 5. He started in place of Morant in Game 4 and scored 19 points, which is well above his postseason average of 8.2 ppg.
Brandon Clarke, who averages 12.9 ppg off the bench for the Grizzlies, scored just four points in Game 4. Steve Adams, who didn’t play much this series, got the start at center. The Kiwi scored 10 points and hauled down 14 rebounds in 27 minutes of action.
Warriors seeking a knockout
The Warriors are one win away from clinching the series with a victory in Game 5. The last thing they want is to give the Grizzlies any semblance of hope, especially without Morant in the lineup. Championship teams go for the jugular and put away opponents the first chance they get. This veteran squad knows they don’t want to let up on the gas.
Steve Kerr missed Game 4 because he tested positive for COVID-19, and luckily, no one else on the team has shown signs of being sick. Assistant coach — and soon-to-be head coach of the Sacramento Kings — Mike Brown will hold the clipboard for the Warriors in Game 5. Brown led the Warriors to victory in Game 4.
As usual, the Warriors fell behind early, but they were able to pull off the victory in the fourth quarter.
“Early on, I thought we were playing a little frantically,” said Brown. “I felt that we have done that before in these playoffs. We have been pretty frantic to start the ballgames and then we settle down.”
Curry was the calming force, shrugging off a poor shooting night and knocking down eight clutch free throws to ice the game.
“That’s just Steph,” said Klay Thompson. “He has that mindset where he is the best shooter of all time and it just takes one good look at the rim or free throw and, when that happens, the floodgates open.”
Curry leads the Warriors with 29.1 ppg in the postseason. Jordan Poole is the second-best scorer with 21.9 ppg, followed by Thompson with 19.4 points. Andrew Wiggins, an integral member of the “Death Lineup,” averages 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Check out more of OG’s coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs.