The Warriors lost Game 2 of their second-round series with the Grizzlies on Tuesday, but as most know by now, Golden State lost a key player to injury as well.
Warriors guard Gary Payton II fractured his elbow early in the game after bracing a fall caused by a hard foul on Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks. The play also resulted in a flagrant two penalty and an ejection for Brooks. After the loss, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Brooks “broke the code” amongst players to not play as recklessly as Brooks did.
On Wednesday, Kerr went a step further, telling 95.7 The Game in San Francisco that Brooks’ foul was the worst “code-breaking” foul he’s seen during his long tenure in the NBA. Here’s the play if you haven’t watched it already or want to refresh your memory.
And here’s Kerr’s comment from Wednesday. He didn’t back down from his initial statement and added an exclamation point in the process.
Unfortunately for Kerr and his team, Payton will be out through the conference finals. He does have a chance to play in the NBA Finals, should the Warriors get there.
Kerr placed Payton in the starting lineup in the first two games of the series so Payton, and his defensive prowess, could keep an eye on Grizzlies superstar guard Ja Morant. Morant dominated in Memphis’ Game 2 win, which tied the series at one game apiece.
That’s not the real reason Kerr is upset, however. Payton has waited a long time for an opportunity like starting in the NBA Playoffs, and now, that opportunity is lost, due to what Kerr and nearly every other NBA pundit says was not in the spirit of basketball, AKA “dirty.”
But the Warriors still have to slow Morant, They have to shoot much better from the 3-point line. (They shot a paltry 18.4 percent in the 106-101 defeat.) And they have to stop fouling and turning the basketball over. If they can shore those areas up, Warriors superstar guard Stephen Curry and his squad still have enough to pull this series out, even without Payton. Knowing that Payton might be healthy for the NBA Finals should only strengthen their resolve.