Wednesday 6:30 p.m. ET update - Morant has officially been ruled out for Game 2 against the Lakers with a hand injury. Tyus Jones will likely get the start at point guard for Memphis. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane will need to step up offensively with Morant out to avoid going back to LA down 2-0 in the series.
Memphis Grizzlies PG Ja Morant is a game-time decision for Game 2 of their first-round series vs. the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Morant was injured in the Grizzlies’ loss to the Lakers in Game 1 of the series over the weekend. He’s dealing with a soft tissue bruise in his hand after falling hard in Game 1.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there’s isn’t a whole lot of optimism around Morant’s status for Game 2:
.@wojespn has the latest on Ja Morant:— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 18, 2023
"I do not sense a great deal of optimism around this Grizzlies team that Ja Morant will be ready to play in Game 2." pic.twitter.com/67KuD35Lix
Morant played 30 minutes in the first game and finished with 18 points and six rebounds. Memphis was torched by the Lakers from outside, allowing L.A. to shoot 43 percent from 3-point range. It wasn’t even LeBron James and Anthony Davis who killed the Grizz, it was Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura who came up big. Hachimura scored a team-high 29 points off the bench. AD was an issue all day for the Grizzlies down low on the defensive end.
The Lakers are currently favored on the spread slightly at -1 on DraftKings Sportsbook. We should see that line sway one way or the other with Morant’s status coming before tip. If Morant is ruled out, grabbing the Lakers after that Game 1 makes a lot of sense. This isn’t a normal No. 7 seed. It’s LeBron and AD. If Morant doesn’t play in Game 2 and the Grizz go down 2-0 in the series, it may be too much to overcome going back to Los Angeles.
As for the Memphis and what it can do to compensate, well, not much. Missing Morant would be a lot to take in this early in the playoffs. Dillon Brooks will need to step up (which isn’t ideal). Realistically, Desmond Bane takes on more of a dominant scorer role while Tyus Jones fills in at PG and Luke Kennard helps off the bench. The Grizzlies are going to have to win from the outside and the wing if AD is going to keep wreaking havoc down low.