Memphis Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks has been suspended for Game 3 of their second-round series against the Golden State Warriors, the NBA announced Thursday. Brooks was ejected from Game 2 after committing a Flagrant 2 foul on Warriors guard Gary Payton II. That foul resulted in Payton fracturing his left elbow. He is expected to miss at least three weeks with the injury, though the Warriors have not ruled out a possible return for the NBA Finals.
The foul itself occurred early in Game 2. Payton had a wide-open lane to the basket and went up for a dunk. Brooks took him down with a hard hit to the head, and Payton fell hard to the floor.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr believed that whether or not the play was intentional, it was certainly dirty, and that Brooks crossed a line. “Playoff basketball is supposed to be physical,” he explained. “But there is a code that players follow where you never put a guy’s season [or] career in jeopardy by taking somebody out in midair and clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary’s elbow … He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code.”
This series has been chippy from the start. Warriors big man Draymond Green was ejected from Game 1 for a hit on Brandon Clarke, and Green gave Memphis fans middle fingers when he went to the locker room in Game 2. The Grizzlies defeated the Warriors in the play-in round last season.
Brooks is averaging a career-high 18.4 points per game this season, and he has started all eight playoff games the Grizzlies have played. Memphis will rely on reserve wings DeAnthony Melton and Ziaire Williams to fill his shoes. They did so admirably in a Game 2 win, but with the series shifting to San Francisco for Game 3, the pressure is still on the young Grizzlies to keep up with the three-time champion Warriors.