Just two games into the Western Conference Semifinals, the series between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies has already seen plenty of drama both on and off the court. The latest coming on Thursday morning when the NBA announced that they will be suspending Memphis forward Dillon Brooks for Game 3 on Saturday after his Flagrant Foul 2 caused Golden State’s Gary Payton II to fracture his elbow.
The NBA is suspending Memphis’ Dillon Brooks for Game 3 vs. Golden State on Saturday, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 5, 2022
The play occurred about 3 minutes into the first quarter. Payton was flying down the middle lane during a fast break opportunity when he received a pass from Draymond Green. As he went up, Payton was hacked from behind by Brooks causing him to land while his left arm was extended as he tried to break his fall. The play was reviewed by the officials and ruled a Flagrant 2.
Afterwards, in a moment of pure grit similar to Klay Thompson in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Payton stayed in the game to shoot his free throws just in case there was a chance he would return to the game. It was later revealed Payton did so having suffered a fractured elbow on the play.
In Tuesday’s postgame presser, head coach Steve Kerr called Brooks’ foul a ‘dirty’ play. During Thursday’s media availability, it was evident that Kerr was still emotional about the play as he showed his compassion for Payton while continuing to take shots aimed at Brooks.
Steve Kerr on the NBA suspending Dillon Brooks for Game 3:— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) May 5, 2022
“Doesn’t matter. Gary’s out for the foreseeable future, weeks. That’s the only thing that matters to us.”
"Just play hard. Battle for every loose ball, battle for every rebound, compete every possession. And, you know, don’t risk a guy’s career if he’s ahead of the play in transition. That’s our mantra.”— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) May 5, 2022
Steve Kerr on the Warriors “mantra” pic.twitter.com/I4W2tOWjTR
Brooks is a physical defender for the Grizzlies, but he struggled in Game 1 of this series. His shot selection was poor as he went 3-of-13 from the field including 2-of-8 from the three-point line. He finished the game with 8 points in 30 minutes of play.
On the flip side, Payton was Golden State’s best on-ball defender against Ja Morant. His absence from Game 2 was especially noticeable as Morant lit the Warriors up for 41 points. With Payton presumably gone for the rest of the series and beyond, Golden State will have to find a new solution to slow down Morant’s relentless attacks at the rim.