Not even two games into the series, things are already getting chippy between the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. Less than three minutes into Thursday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals in Memphis, Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks was ejected after being assessed a Flagrant 2 foul.
As Warriors guard Gary Payton II leaked out for a fast break opportunity and attempted a shot, Brooks took a swipe at the ball from behind, but wound up delivering a significant blow to Payton’s head. Payton fell hard to the floor, injuring his elbow as he tried to brace himself, and was later ruled out for the rest of Game 2.
After the game ended in a 106-101 Grizzlies victory, Steve Kerr delivered the grim news: Payton has a fractured left elbow. He will have an MRI Wednesday to determine the extent of the damage.
“That wasn’t physical. That was dirty,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of the Grizzlies during a TNT interview between the first and second quarter. After the game, Kerr went after Brooks even more. “The line is pretty clear. You don’t hit a guy when he’s in midair, club him and break his elbow. That’s where the line is.”
Just seconds later after Payton’s injury, Warriors forward Draymond Green went to the locker room with a bloody face after catching an elbow from Grizzlies big man Xavier Tillman.
No foul was called on the play, and the sequence was not reviewed. Green delivered double middle-fingers to the FedExForum crowd on his way to the locker room, and returned to the floor to start the second quarter.
The physicality of the first quarter was especially notable given what transpired in Sunday’s Game 1, when Green was ejected in the second quarter after a controversial Flagrant 2 foul on Brandon Clarke.
If the first two games are any indication, this is going to be an incredibly physical and fiery series. It will be up to both teams to make sure they maintain their cool with a trip to the Western Conference finals on the line.