Injuries have hit the Hawks – at a bad time.
The Hawks will be without starters Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore for at least the next two games, according to the team’s injury report issued Sunday. Bazemore will miss at least two other games and maybe more. The Hawks have just 13 games remaining in the regular season and are in a battle for playoff position.
Millsap missed Saturday’s 113-97 loss to the Trail Blazers with left knee tightness that became an issue during pregame warmup. The starting power forward will miss the next two games, at the Hornets Monday and at the Wizards Wednesday, due to the injury. The team said the status of its All-Star would be updated as appropriate.
Bazemore’s injury is more serious. The starting shooting guard suffered what was called a right knee contusion in the fourth quarter against the Trail Blazers. He had an MRI exam Sunday morning at the Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center. The test revealed a right knee bone bruise and the starting shooting guard will treated and re-evaluated in 7-10 days, according to the team. A seven-day absence would mean Bazemore would also miss games at the Bucks on Friday and versus the Nets on Sunday. He would be in jeopardy of missing back-to-back games against the Suns and the 76ers on March 28-29.
After Saturday’s game and prior to the MRI, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he was “hopeful” Bazemore would not miss playing time.
Bazemore will not make the three-game road trip that begins in Charlotte. Millsap will not make the first legs of the trip but could re-join the team in Milwaukee.
Ersan Ilyasova started in place of Millsap against the Trail Blazers. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a candidate to replace Bazemore. Mike Muscala and rookie Taurean Prince will likely see increased roles off the bench.
The Hawks have struggled of late with three straight losses. There are just 13 games remaining in the regular season and are fighting for a playoff berth and position. The Hawks are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. They are three games behind the fourth-place Raptors. They are also just 1-1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Pacers and three games ahead of the Heat and Bucks.
Millsap is the Hawks leading scorer at 18.3 points per game and is second in rebounds at 7.7, assists at 3.8 and steals at 1.3. He missed just three games this season with a left hip injury in early December.
Bazemore averages 11.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He missed just two games all season in early December with a sore right knee.