After coming off with a vengeance in Game 2, Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies showcased their wares and tied the series at one apiece against the third-seeded Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals. It was a masterclass performance by Morant, but one missing piece in that victory was the Grizzlies starting wing Dillon Brooks. At the early juncture of Game 2, Brooks was ejected due to a hard foul on Gary Payton II, which has led to Game 3 suspension for Brooks as well.

Brooks was missed for majority of the regular season due to lingering injuries, but he has been an instrumental player in the Grizzlies playoff runs over the past two seasons. His two-way prowess and excellent confidence to produce at the highest stage is what gives coach Taylor Jenkins the utmost confidence to insert him at the crucial times of the game. Without Brooks in Game 3, these are three men who Jenkins must rely on for Game 3.

De’Anthony Melton

With Jenkins deciding to switch to a smaller and quicker starting lineup in the playoffs, missing Brooks as their best perimeter defender and second-best shooter on the floor is more magnified than usual. Inserting De’Anthony Melton as a fabulous defender who could defend Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole on majority of the possessions would be the next move for Memphis.

Even with a limited role in the second unit, Melton is known to generate numerous steals and deflections every game. His hustle and energy prompts his teammates to follow suit and start having a massive impact on the contest. Furthermore, Melton is a terrific complement to Morant offensively because he can space the floor tremendously along with his timely cuts and off-ball movement that leads to easy baskets at the rim.

Desmond Bane

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The best player for the Grizzlies in their first round match against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Desmond Bane has been missing in this series against the Warriors. Coach Steve Kerr has done a remarkable job of limiting his three-point shooting, which has negatively impacted other aspects of the game as well. Guys like Melton and Ziaire Williams are performing better, so Bane is due for a phenomenal Game 3 for him to regain his spot.

Bane will likely receive close to 40 minutes in Game 3, so he must be a huge threat so the Warriors defense cannot just solely focus on Morant’s exceptional ability to rack up points. Klay Thompson has been struggling in this series as well, but if he gets his touch in Game 3, Bane could also be tasked to take a crack on preventing Thompson to go nuclear in a home game at Chase Center.

Ziaire Williams

Casual NBA fans may be unfamiliar with Williams, but this rookie 3-and-D wing was the differentiating piece in the Steven Adams-Jonas Valanciunas swap in the offseason. Being the first round pick that Memphis selected at 10th overall, Williams was sensational at the critical time in Game 2. He started for a plethora of games in the regular season, which has prepared him to contribute immensely in the playoffs.

As a rookie, Williams knows he would not have many touches or opportunities in the playoffs, but he made it a point to step up in the fourth quarter with a couple of three-pointers and fantastic defensive stops. With his athleticism and versatility, he may need to ratchet it up defensively in Game 3 because Brooks was tasked to defend either Curry or Poole in the first two games.

With home court advantage back in the Warriors favor, Memphis must pounce on winning Game 3 right away because giving Golden State the momentum in the playoffs would be a disaster for them. It is a cliche that role players usually perform better in home games, but with Brooks missing for a game, these youthful individuals must assert themselves against the veterans of the Warriors and give them a legitimate chance to steal at least one in San Francisco.