Morant was previously listed as questionable to play with the injury, and was said to be a gametime decision. Well, gametime is almost here, and the Grizzlies say he’s playing:
Morant is active for Game 3, per the Grizzlies. https://t.co/ywpHzV4w5f— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 23, 2023
Memphis head coach Taylor Jenkins had previously given a few updates on Morant’s status about half an hour before news that he would play was officially announced by the team:
He added, "If he's gonna go tonight, it's knowing that he's going to try to be as effective as possible."— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) April 23, 2023
Taylor Jenkins said whether Ja will play is a "collective" decision between medical, Ja, and the coaching staff— Cooper Halpern (@CooperHalpern) April 23, 2023
These updates comes after the previous ones Jenkins gave team’s practice in L.A. on Friday, where he said that Morant participated — although the session was non-contact — and would be listed as questionable for the game:
Ja Morant was a full participant at practice today. It was a non-contact practice. He’s still expected to be a gametime decision tomorrow for Game 3.— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) April 21, 2023
Ja Morant was a full participant in Grizzlies practice today. Coach Taylor Jenkins says he’ll still be listed as questionable for Game 3 Saturday night.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 21, 2023
Jenkins said Morant went through a non-contact practice and individual workout that included dribbling & shooting… “it’s just catching the ball he’s having to navigate.” Grizz will make a decision at game time but Jenkins said Morant’s hand is a lot better than 2 days ago.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 21, 2023
How effective Morant will be remains an open question given that Jenkins has said they were worried about his ability to catch the ball, but having him as an option is almost certainly still preferable to the alternative for the Grizzlies. His return will also move Tyus Jones — who brutalized the Lakers in Game 2 — back to the bench, requiring different defensive schemes for Los Angeles against those two units given the two guards’ varying skill sets and abilities.
And with Morant suiting up, look for Jarred Vanderbilt to continue starting after some thought that he could be moved to the bench for Rui Hachimura with no specific target to hound on defense. Now he will likely return to guarding Morant like he did in Game 1, barring a last-minute change.
The Lakers and Grizzlies will tip off at 7 p.m. PT on Saturday night, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN, and locally on Spectrum SportsNet.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.