There has been plenty of controversy and tension in the Warriors-Grizzlies second-round NBA playoff series, stemming from multiple Flagrant 2 penalties and significant injuries.
One of those injuries occurred to Grizzlies star Ja Morant, who on Tuesday was declared doubtful to play for the rest of the NBA playoffs due to a bone bruise in his knee.
Morant appeared to injure himself during the second half of the Warriors' 142-112 win in Game 3 at Chase Center. After the game, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins accused Warriors guard Jordan Poole of malicious intent by injuring Morant on a play in which he "yanked" the star guard's knee.
However, Poole's teammates and coaches have defended his actions, saying the hand-to-knee contact was minimal and a normal play on the ball. Additionally, others have noted that Morant could have been injured on a different play altogether.
Dr. Nirav Pandya, an Associate Professor of UCSF Orthopedic Surgery and Director of Sports Medicine at Benioff Children's Hospital, explained how it is "highly unlikely" that Poole's hand could have caused such an injury:
"A bone bruise is a traumatic injury to the bone in which the micro-structure of the bone is disrupted; many times which is accompanied by bleeding within the bone," Dr. Pandya told NBC Sports Bay Area. "This usually occurs through three different mechanisms: direct high-energy impact to the bone (direct blow), impact/rotation of the bones when there is a ligament injury, or repetitive injuries to the bone (i.e. constantly loading the bone).
"Obviously, without looking at the MRI, we can't 100 percent know for sure. But given this diagnosis, it is highly unlikely that Jordan Poole's grab of Ja's knee could have caused significant damage to the bone through a direct blow. It would also take a significant amount of force for Jordan Poole to cause ligament damage to Ja's knee leading to a secondary bone bruise."
After Jenkins' postgame comments, Morant then went to Twitter and posted a now-deleted tweet, in which he displayed the play in question and mocked Warriors coach Steve Kerr's words by writing "broke the code."
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The NBA declined to punish Poole for the play, while the Grizzlies ran tests to determine the severity of Morant's injury that ultimately resulted in Tuesday's announcement.
Many people believe the actual injury could have occurred in the third quarter of the game, when Morant leaped to contest a Klay Thompson jumper and banged his knee on Thompson's leg.
The Warriors and Grizzlies continue their series on Wednesday from FexExForum, with the Warriors holding a three-games-to-one lead.
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