NBA

Ja Morant ruled out of Game 4 due to knee injury

By Sports Desk May 09, 2022

Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant has officially been ruled out of Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors due to a knee injury he suffered in Game 3.

Morant, who was the winner of this season's Most Improved Player award, has averaged 38.3 points, 8.3 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game through the first three fixtures of the series.

It appeared Morant had a knee-on-knee clash in Game 3, but the Grizzlies highlighted a sequence where Morant got tangled up with Jordan Poole during a double-team near half-court, where Poole appeared to grab Morant's knee and pull it.

While it seemed innocuous, with the NBA announcing Poole would face no repercussions, Morant tweeted a video of the incident immediately after the game with the caption "broke the code" – before deleting the tweet.

The "code" Morant is referencing touches on a comment made by Warriors coach Steve Kerr, when he said Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks "broke the code" with his flagrant two foul on Gary Payton II that caused a fractured elbow and sidelined the defensive specialist through at least the rest of the series.

While Morant's absence will be clearly felt, the Grizzlies may be the team most equipped to survive for a game without their star, finishing the regular season with a 20-5 record in the 25 games Morant missed.

Game 4 will be played at the home of Golden State, before returning to Memphis for Game 5. 

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    Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Eastern Conference Finals will be an old-school defensive slugfest, and that he feels the best two teams made it.

    The Heat needed six games to triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Boston Celtics came back from 3-2 down against the Milwaukee Bucks to get the job done in Game 7.

    As a reward for getting their series out of the way early, the Heat will have five days of rest before Tuesday's Game 1, while the Celtics have just one proper rest day between series.

    Speaking to the media after Monday's practice, Spoelstra said it is shaping up as a series that will warm the heart of Heat president Pat Riley.

    "Pat's [Riley] probably is going to enjoy this," he said. "This is like a throwback series. 

    "If both teams are really on top of their games, this should be a series where neither team is scoring 130 points. Both teams hang their hats on rock-solid team defense, and making multiple efforts and being disciplined to schemes. 

    "So it will be a lot of plays and things in the margins… really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it's fitting that we're moving into the conference finals.

    "Boston has played as well as anyone in the entire league once they got to 2022. It's not by accident. They're playing very strong basketball. They do it on both ends."

    Heat star Jimmy Butler was asked about his potential matchup against Jayson Tatum, and he had nothing but praise for the Celtics' best player.

    "He's one of the best in the game right now," he said. "As much attention as he draws on the offensive end – and then I think what's really impressive is the way that he's picked up his defensive intensity. 

    "You got to tip your hat to that and respect him, I think those are the guys that you want to go up against."

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