Injuries have been a common theme in the NBA during the 2020-21 season with the league returning from the previous campaign with a short turnaround time and a compressed schedule.
We’ve seen stars like Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant, and James Harden among others miss significant time with various injuries. Denver’s Jamal Murray was unfortunate to have suffered a season-ending ACL tear.
The Atlanta Hawks have had their share of injuries this season but so far, their leading man Trae Young has been one of their most durable players this campaign. Unfortunately for the Hawks, that changed on Wednesday night during the team’s loss against the New York Knicks.
Young Has Been One of the Most Durable Hawks This Season
While the results of the MRI are still unknown as of this writing, the Hawks are expected to dodge a bullet here. Initial x-rays revealed no structural damage to Young’s ankle. In an interview with “The Jump” early on Thursday, Young said that he’s still sore but the ankle does feel better.
Trae Young had to be helped off the floor after suffering an apparent ankle/lower leg injury. pic.twitter.com/WAN8nocJ3j
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) April 22, 2021
Young’s latest disposition was a breath of fresh air after seeing grimace in pain and getting helped off the floor on Wednesday night. Young went up for a floater but inadvertently landed on Norvelle Pelle’s foot and immediately crumpled on the hardcourt. He was helped to his feet by teammates but was able to put some weight on the foot, which was a positive sign.
The Hawks have been one of the teams that have been ravaged by injuries this season. But fortunately for them, Young has so far avoided the injury bug as he has played in 54 of their 59 games so far. However, even if the MRI turns out clean, he is expected to sit out a little time as he gets back to full strength and that’s going to be a huge loss for Atlanta as he is their leading scorer and playmaker at 25.3 points and 9.6 assists per game.
Battle for Playoff Position
Atlanta is in a nip and tuck battle with the New York Knicks for the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference and the final seat with home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If the playoffs began today, the Knicks would take 4th place with a 33-27 record while the Hawks are in 5th spot with their 32-27 mark. With New York having a 20-10 record at Madison Square Garden, the Hawks don’t want to give them the home-court advantage if they face in the first round of the playoffs.
The current NBA standings before tonight’s action.
Teams ranked 7-10 will participate in the NBA Play-In Tournament after the regular season (May 18-21) to secure the final two spots in the Playoffs for each conference. pic.twitter.com/BCscMxP12z
— NBA (@NBA) April 22, 2021
Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks was a tough one because it gave the Knicks the temporary upper hand in the team standings. The Hawks have the advantage moving forward because they have an easier remaining schedule with the Knicks. Atlanta’s remaining 13 opponents have an average winning percentage of .489 while New York’s final 12 foes have an average winning percentage of .542.
It has been a very impressive 11-game turnaround for the Hawks since they fired head coach Lloyd Pierce and replaced him with Nate McMillan. Atlanta was 14-20 when Pierce was fired but now they are in a position where not only they can make the playoffs for the first time since 2017, they also have the opportunity to do so with home-court advantage in round one, something they haven’t done since 2016.
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