14 Jan

Grizzlies guard out for six weeks with finger injury

Things just keep getting worse for the Memphis Grizzlies. After the shocking announcement that Ja Morant would miss the remainder of the season due to a tear in his right shoulder that would require surgery, Memphis will now also be without Marcus Smart for an extended period of time. The team announced that Smart is expected to be sidelined for six weeks with a finger injury, further depleting the Grizzlies’ depth this season.

Smart sustained the injury in a blowout win against the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 9. It happened during the third quarter, where after making a 3-pointer Smart noticed that his ring finger looked like it was dislocated. He went back to the locker room and was later ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Marcus Smart went back to the Grizzlies locker room with an apparent finger injury after making this three.

Hope he’s alright 🙏pic.twitter.com/n3ZBq2MmZu

— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) January 10, 2024
It’s another significant blow to a Memphis team that for a few games looked like it could go on a run when Morant came back from his 25-game suspension. In the nine games that Morant played with the Grizzlies, they went 6-3 and were showing signs of life after starting the season 6-19. But now with his injury, and now Smart, it seems like this season will be completely derailed before it really ever started.

Losing Smart for almost two months is going to take a toll on an already shaky Grizzlies team. Smart stepped in this season after being traded to Memphis during the summer and immediately made an impact. He’s averaging a career-high 14.5 points, while also adding on 4.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals. He really took on a significant role when Morant was out for the first 25 games, and despite the Grizzlies struggling to string together wins without Morant, Smart did his best to hold teammates accountable for their effort and lead with his scoring, passing and tough defense. Without him, the defense will surely falter from ranking ninth in the league. When Smart’s on the floor, the Grizzlies allow nearly three fewer points than when he sits, and not having him to defend quicker, craftier guards out on the perimeter will mean that Jaren Jackson Jr. will be tasked with more work when opponents get into the paint.

We’ll have to see how the Grizzlies perform now that they’re without both Morant and Smart, because while they initially responded well when Morant went out for the season, winning back-to-back games, things will get tougher now that Smart is also sidelined. That means more offensive responsibility for Desmond Bane, who has already shown on multiple occasions that he’s more than capable of being the No. 1 option on offense. But Bane alone won’t be enough, Jackson Jr. will need to step up a bit more, and so will the likes of Luke Kennard, Santi Aldama and Ziaire Williams.

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