Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant Credit: Bill Moore photo

It took the first round of the NBA’s playoffs to validate who were the Western Conference’s four best teams. The defending conference champion and No. 1 seed Phoenix Sun ended the regular season with the league’s best record at 64-18 record, followed by the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies, the No. 3 seed Golden State Warriors and No. 4 seed Dallas Mavericks.

The Suns took Game 1 121-114 over the Mavericks on Monday in Phoenix and met up again in Game 2 last night (Wednesday). The series goes to Dallas for Games 3 (last night) and 4 (tomorrow).

The Grizzlies-Warriors series has seen hard fouls, arguably dirty fouls, accusations, finger-pointing and the rise of Ja Morant as one of the league’s most unstoppable stars. The Warriors took Game 1 on Sunday 117-116 in which Warriors forward Draymond Green was ejected for a flagrant foul on Brandon Clarke late in the second quarter.

The physical play went to another level in Game 2 when Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks hit Warriors guard Gary Payton II on his head while Payton was in the air attempting a layup, causing him to land awkwardly and breaking his left elbow. Brooks was assessed with a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called the play “dirty” adding, “Dillon Brooks broke the code,” referencing what is considered acceptable physical playoff basketball. As for Morant, he took over the game in the fourth quarter, scoring the last 15 points for Memphis.

“Coming into today, I told myself, we needed a win, and we were going to get a win,” said Morant. “I just took it upon myself to go out there and do that for us.”

Game 3 is Saturday at Golden State and Game 4 on Monday will also be played on their home court.

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