Memphis has lived dangerously this postseason, needing three double-digit comebacks to advance past the T-Wolves in its opening-round series, which ended with Friday’s win in Minnesota. The matchup was closer than many expected with Games 4 and 5 decided by a combined three points.
Pestered throughout the series by Patrick Beverley (who the Grizzlies traded to Minnesota this offseason), Ja Morant struggled at times, averaging 21.5 points per game—well below the 27.4 he tallied during the regular season—on dismal 38.1-percent shooting. Morant affected the game in other ways, crashing the boards (8.7 rebounds per game) while also leading Memphis in assists (10.5), though that didn’t seem to satisfy his dad, who gave a blunt assessment of his son’s play, characterizing the 22-year-old’s performance against the Timberwolves as “trash.”
It’s hard to tell if Morant’s old man was trying to motivate him or merely exaggerating for comic effect. Either way, Tee Morant has been a fixture throughout the playoffs, attending each of his son’s games while starting up a friendly rivalry with Karl Towns Sr., father of Timberwolves All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. Honoring a wager he made with Tee before the series, Towns Sr. was given Morant’s No. 12 Grizzlies jersey to wear after Memphis’ clinching win in Game 6.
Morant and the Grizzlies will have their work cut out for them against the red-hot Warriors in the Western Conference semis, though Memphis will have the benefit of home-court advantage and did win three of its four regular-season meetings with Golden State.