How Ja Morant and an unlucky lottery bounce changed Celtics’ fortunes

Tomase: How Ja Morant altered the course of recent Celtics history originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Celtics fans lament the 2019 NBA Draft as the one where Tyler Herro nearly fell into their laps, but the real killer will be on display on Thursday night when the Memphis Grizzlies come to town: Ja Morant.

The No. 2 overall pick in that draft — and suddenly the most exciting player in the NBA — wasn’t supposed to land in Memphis until a fortuitous bounce of ping-pong balls altered the course of two franchises.

What should’ve been another master stroke from Danny Ainge instead crumbled when the Grizzlies hit six percent odds to jump from eighth to second in the lottery.

The C’s had been hoping to secure a top-three pick in 2021 on the strength of a deal Ainge struck in 2015 with considerable foresight when he shipped veteran

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Are Ja Morant, Memphis Contenders For 2022 NBA Finals?

Ja Morant continued his magical season with a career-best performance Monday, scoring 52 points with several highlight-reel plays in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 118-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

With the NBA’s third-best record, the Grizzlies are making the case to be viewed as contenders to make a run to the 2022 NBA Finals. The betting odds suggest that the Grizzlies aren’t on the same level as the league’s best teams, despite what the regular-season standings might indicate.

Eight teams currently have better championship odds than Memphis at DraftKings Sportsbook. With +2500 odds to win the title, the Grizzlies are right behind the Boston Celtics (+2200) and Utah Jazz (+1700).

The Grizzlies are only a game behind the Golden State Warriors in the West standings. The Warriors trail the Phoenix Suns by six games for the No. 1 seed in the West. Memphis has a better record than any

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NBA All-Stars say Ja Morant is league’s most explosive point guard

CLEVELAND —Ja Morant’s superstar status has reached the level where NBA players sound like fans when speaking about his game.  

As Cleveland guard Isaac Okoro put it, when he catches highlights on SportsCenter or House of Highlights, Morant is a regular. 

“You go on your phone and it’s an every night thing,” Okoro said Saturday ahead of Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game (7 p.m. CT, TNT). “He’s dunking on somebody or doing something crazy. He’s probably the most explosive player in the league right now.”

When asked who the NBA’s most explosive player is, participants in the NBA Rising Stars game and All-Stars overwhelmingly pointed to Morant. De’Aaron Fox and Russell Westbrook were the other names mentioned, but here is what was said about Morant’s explosiveness during All-Star Weekend:

Nikola Jokic, Denver: “When he’s at full speed, he has like one more gear.”

Fred VanVleet, Toronto: “He can just go. He

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Grizzlies PG Ja Morant soars for incredible block

Ja Morant is not of this earth.

Early in the Memphis Grizzlies‘ game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, the team’s star point guard found himself chasing down Lakers guard Avery Bradley after a turnover.

Despite having Grizzlies wing Desmond Bane in his face in transition, Bradley appeared to get a layup off, muscling through Bane with Morant two steps behind him. The ball was on its way to two points, until Morant jumped from the middle of the paint and soared through the air for a two-handed block.

You know it’s a good play when the opposing crowd is audibly stunned.

The most underrated part of that chasedown black is Morant ending up with the ball after landing from a trip that had him nearly four feet in the air. One replay showed just how high the 6-foot-3 Morant got, with his head basically even with the

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