After an unquestionably dirty play by Dillon Brooks in the 1st quarter took Payton II out of commission, Payton II was ruled out of the game and was subsequently diagnosed with a left elbow fracture.
Fractured left elbow for Gary Payton II. MRI tomorrow to better understand how severe. But just a major blow for the Warriors.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 4, 2022
For reference, here’s the play that got Brooks tossed out of the game:
Dillon Brooks' hard foul which led to ejection— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 4, 2022
Hope it's not too serious for Gary Payton II pic.twitter.com/6LFao2Q3TU
There are going to be lots of questions regarding how the NBA approaches this matter. Brooks’ swipe on Payton II was completely unnecessary and blatantly excessive. One can’t fully judge intentionality, but there has to be some sort of crackdown from the league office — there’s just no room for this type of “play” in the league.
In any case, losing Payton II is a huge blow. There’s no guarantee that Payton II would’ve limited Ja Morant — who had a sublime 47-point performance on 31 shots and 64.0% True Shooting — to worse numbers, but he would’ve certainly made Morant work harder.
The ramifications of Payton II’s injury goes beyond this series. Should the Warriors get past the Grizzlies, a potential Western Conference Finals showdown against the Phoenix Suns will be made more difficult by Payton II’s absence, with the Warriors having one key defender absent that they could’ve thrown out against the likes of Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
All things considered, winning one game on the road still puts the Warriors in a good position, although not as good as if they would’ve taken both games in Memphis. With their designated Morant stopper indefinitely sidelined and momentum on the Grizzlies’ side, Game 3 on Saturday will be a significant inflection point.