Update: Wednesday, April 19 — The Memphis Grizzlies have ruled out Ja Morant for Game 2 of the playoffs against the Lakers on Wednesday. Officially, Morant is out with right hand soreness.
Ja Morant is inactive tonight per the Grizzlies— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 19, 2023
Everything had been trending this way for Morant as the week progressed. After exiting Sunday afternoon’s game with an injury and not returning, none of the reports were particularly optimistic about Morant’s availability.
Obviously, this will be one of the key storylines to follow regarding the series moving forward. After Wednesday’s game, the two teams have two more days off before playing Game 3 on Saturday.
Previous updates and the original story follows.
Update: Tuesday, April 18 — The Grizzlies are considering Ja Morant a game-time decision for Wednesday’s Game 2 against the Lakers, head coach Taylor Jenkins revealed after practice on Tuesday.
An MRI on Morant’s injured hand showed soft tissue bruising, but no broken bones, and the team will officially list him as questionable for the matchup:
An MRI yesterday showed an aggravation of the bruising in the soft tissue in Ja Morant’s hand, an injury originally suffered vs. Bucks in last week of regular season. He did some shooting and dribbling today. https://t.co/9piyi1mlMx— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 18, 2023
.@memgrizz status report, First Round Game 2 vs @Lakers:— Grizzlies PR (@GrizzliesPR) April 18, 2023
Ja Morant - RT Hand Soreness
Steven Adams - RT Knee PCL Sprain
Brandon Clarke - LT Achilles Tear
Jake LaRavia - RT Calf Soreness
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, however, the team is not optimistic that Ja will be able to play in 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
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported more on Morant’s injury and status, revealing it was a matter of pain tolerance as the testing on his hand found no breaks or fractures.
Here is what Charania had to say on Fanduel TV:
“So Ja Morant suffered hand injury in Game 1, and he underwent an x-ray that day on Sunday, he underwent further testing, further evaluation on Monday. I’m told there are no breaks, no fractures in Ja Morant’s hand. It’s as of right now being treated more as a ‘pain tolerance injury,’ something that they’re going to continue to monitor today (Tuesday). It’s clearly severe enough and painful enough to where Ja Morant said the other night that he felt it was a 10/10 when it comes to pain, so his status is still very much up in the air for Game 2 on Wednesday. The Grizzlies won’t have to update his status until later today. I think they’ll take their time, it’s the playoffs, everyone wants to have an advantage (so) they’ll keep it close to the vest, but Ja Morant — if it is truly a situation where it’s a pain tolerance thing, he did say the other day that ‘I’m going to do the best I can to play if I can get out there. But if I feel like I’m hurting my team, I also am understanding of that.’”
Tim MacMahon of ESPN said on Monday’s “Hoop Collective” podcast that Morant could not even unroll his own pair of socks with the hand after Game 1, and needed help from a locker room attendant. Morant was seen at Grizzlies practice on Tuesday, but only shooting with his left hand:
Ja Morant is here at practice. He’s shooting some casual hook shots and floaters with his left hand, but I haven’t seen him use his right hand. pic.twitter.com/Ff9OYTkG5b— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) April 18, 2023
Now Ja’s hand is wrapped. Media availability will be shortly, should have more updates pic.twitter.com/Fe2WJE3AUF— Grizzly Bear Blues (@bcmGrizzlies) April 18, 2023
Nevertheless, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said that the Lakers are preparing as if Morant will play:
Lakers coach Darvin Ham on preparing for Game 2 with Ja Morant's status unclear: "I mean, we just prepare as if he’s playing. We don’t try to assume anything or try to make any predictions. We just make sure we cover Plan A, Plan B. Plan A he plays, Plan B, what type of…— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 18, 2023
Original story follows.
Both the Lakers and Grizzlies were dealt injury scares to their stars in Sunday’s series-opening game. After the Lakers navigated an Anthony Davis shoulder injury late in the first half before seeing him return for the second half, while Ja Morant went down late in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for Memphis, Morant did not return as the Lakers won going away in the final minutes. The All-Star guard went down hard on his right hand after a charge drawn by Davis and immediately raced off the court to the locker room.
Morant already had a wrap on the right hand and while he returned to the bench with a more heavily-wrapped hand, he did not check back in.
After the game on Sunday, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins gave a brief update on Morant.
Taylor Jenkins says x-rays for Ja Morant are negative, more reevaluation in the next 2 days— Parker Fleming (@PAKA_FLOCKA) April 16, 2023
“He’s in some pain,” Taylor Jenkins said of Ja Morant. The Grizzlies’ medical staff is evaluating Morant’s hand and wrist. He was already dealing with an injury to that hand. https://t.co/VwDpo8LJZ6— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 16, 2023
After Jenkins spoke, Morant himself was asked about his injury and provided an update that likely has Grizzly fans worried as he said his availability for Wednesday’s game is in “jeopardy.”
Ja Morant said the game Wednesday is in Jeopardy and he is a lot of pain.— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) April 16, 2023
Ja Morant said his pain level in the right hand is a 10.— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) April 16, 2023
When asked if he can grip anything in the hand he said, “I haven’t been using it.”
Morant didn’t show much in terms of being hampered by the existing injury during the game. He finished with 18 points on 8-14 shooting from the field and added 6 rebounds and a pair of steals to go with a pair of assists.
It goes without saying, though, that this would be an enormous loss for Memphis and certainly the storyline to monitor after Game 1 and heading into Game 2 of this series. The good news for Morant and the Grizzlies is that this series is spread out across the opening three games, with Game 2 not slated until Wednesday and Game 3 taking place in Los Angeles on Saturday.
That spacing will certainly allow Morant more time to rehab and work with the medical staff and hopefully be back on the court for this series. Game 2 will tip off at 4:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday, so stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for more updates on everyone’s statuses until then.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.