Ja Morant drove to the hoop against Anthony Davis for a dunk, but he missed because of him and landed awkwardly on his hand after coming back down. The injury came in a pivotal moment of the game where the Grizzlies were competing in a very close game against the Lakers. The Lakers were only up four points at the time Morant went out and didn’t return. Morant commented after the game that he was in a good amount of pain and that his status for Game 2 was “in jeopardy.” The Grizzlies originally listed Morant as questionable, though he has now been officially ruled out for Wednesday’s game.
Ja Morant vs Los Angeles Lakers
Morant’s injury was a big difference-maker in the game because he had 18 points, 2 assists, and 6 rebounds before he got injured. he also shot 47% from the field overall in that game. In his two games that he played against the Lakers this year, Morant averaged 30.5 points, 9 assists, and 6.5 rebounds. He also averaged 41% from the field in those two games too.
The Lakers would mainly throw D’Angelo Russell at Morant on defense, but he has also seen a combination of Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves, and Malik Beasley at times too because he’s such a dynamic playmaker. In the starting lineup, D’Angelo Russell will be matched up with Morant the most and he averages 18 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds per game on the season. He also averages around 40% from three-point range and 47% from the field overall. He’s not the best defender, so even a less than 100% Ja Morant might be able to still play well against him because of that. Morant’s combination of quickness and toughness can be too much at times for anyone, so this matchup will be interesting to watch if it happens here and down the line in the series.
Memphis Grizzlies Point Guard Options vs Los Angeles Lakers
|Depth Chart Position||Player||Avg. MPG|
The Memphis Grizzlies can utilize two different options without Morant in the lineup as the starting point guard. One is more conventional with Tyus Jones who’s a very experienced NBA point guard or they can go unconventional and choose to play Desmond Bane there too.
Tyus Jones is a prototypical NBA point guard. He’s not the biggest guard you’ll see but he’s very smart and can help the Grizzlies navigate games without Morant if need be. He averages 10 points, 5 assists, and 2.5 rebounds per game for the season. He also shot 37% from three-point range and 44% from the field overall. Jones is someone that can be relied on for experience because of the Grizzlies being so young overall. In three games against the Lakers he played in this year, He averaged 14 points, 3 assists, and shot 57% from the field too.
Desmond Bane playing some time at point guard isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. Jones is truly next up to Morant and with the playoffs lineups get tighter, so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Grizzlies at least try this option out. Bane is next up behind Morant in production where he averages 21.5 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds per game this season. He’s one of their best three-point shooters at 41% and he shoots 48% overall from the field too this season. He needs to show up more against the Lakers because in his three games he’s played against them this year he averages 13 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds per game, while also shooting 38% from the field in those three too.
Morant’s electricity and energy are almost impossible to replace, but these two options could at least help the Grizzlies for a game or two while he gets healthy.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Memphis Grizzlies Odds
Despite all of the injuries to the Grizzlies with Steven Adams and Brandon Clarke already being out before there’s confirmation on Morant, the Grizzlies are 1-point home favorites against the Lakers and are at -115 on the money line. Oddsmakers are banking on Morant playing and that the Grizzlies play better in a home environment.
The odds for this series have swung to the Lakers as a whole. The Lakers are favored to win this series outright at -295, while the Grizzlies are listed at +230. Morant being there for the Grizzlies is huge if he can play, but the bigger issue for Memphis that their front court is already reeling without Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams, so oddsmakers favor the Lakers because of the injuries stacked on top of each other.