Yes Morant, Memphis Grizzlies face Phoenix Suns twice in next 3 games

Yes Morant was smiling about it, too.

When asked by ESPN’s Malika Andrews about what teams he thinks the Grizzlies have to “run through” on the path to winning an NBA title, the electrifying All-Star guard said the Celtics, who have the league’s second-best record behind the Bucks.

Andrews followed up by saying, “No one in the West.”

Without hesitation, Morant, with a smile, replied, “I’m fine in the West.”

Having blasted Milwaukee by 41 points at home last week, the Grizzlies (19-11) are tied atop the Western Conference with the Nuggets (19-11), who just beat them Tuesday, 105-91, in Denver.

Their next three games are against the last two teams to represent the conference in the finals – Phoenix (19-13) and Golden State (15-18), which eliminated Memphis in the conference semifinal last season.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant scores against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) in the last second of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec.  27, 2021, in Phoenix.  The Grizzlies won 114-113.

The Grizzlies are in Phoenix on Friday, travel to San Francisco to face the defending NBA champion Warriors on primetime Christmas Sunday and return home to meet the Suns again Tuesday.

Phoenix and Golden State have had their top players out.

Devin Booker has missed two straight games with groin soreness after his epic 58-point performance in 42 minutes of a home comeback win over New Orleans. Minus Booker, the Suns squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of their 113-110 loss to the Wizards, who had lost 10 in a row.

Stephen Curry injured his left shoulder in a loss at Indiana and sat Golden State’s last four games. The Warriors are coming off a 30-point road loss Wednesday against the Nets to conclude a six-game road trip.

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Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry looks into the stands during the pre-game ceremony of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks Tuesday, Dec.  20, 2022, in New York.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Grizzlies have dealt with their share of injuries as well.

Desmond Bane (toe) hasn’t played since Nov. 11 against Minnesota while Jaren Jackson Jr. missed Memphis’ first 14 games of the season after right foot surgery.

Doesn’t appear anyone in the West is going to run away with the conference like Phoenix did in winning a franchise record 64 games last season. Morant is leading arguably the most talented team in the West, but the Pelicans (18-12), Clippers (19-14), Nuggets, Suns and Warriors haven’t been healthy all season.

The Kings (17-13), Blazers (17-15) and Jazz (18-16) have been a surprise, the Mavericks (16-16) always have a puncher’s chance with Luka Doncic and the Timberwolves (16-16), if they can ever figure it out, could be scary good.

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Dec 5, 2022;  Dallas, Texas, United States;  Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) guards Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) during the first quarter at the American Airlines Center.  Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis eliminated Minnesota in the first round of last season’s playoffs.

Oklahoma City (14-18) has the longest current winning streak in the conference at three in a row.

It may come down to who has the healthiest roster come April that’ll determine what is now a traffic jam in the West. The top and 13th team in the West – the Lakers (13-18) – are only separated by 6.5 games.

Again, no one is running away with this. By this time next month, the West could look completely different.

If all things are equal, Morant and the Grizzlies stand a good chance of reaching the finals, but do about four or five other teams with two being on the horizon in their next three games.

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Have an opinion on the current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at [email protected] or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

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