Collins ‘feeling better’ but unable to practice Tuesday

Hawks forward John Collins (20) is still recovering from a right foot strain. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Hawks forward John Collins (20) is still recovering from a right foot strain. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

If there were ever a time the Hawks need to be full-force, this is it, chasing a playoff spot with 24 regular-season games to go.

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Unfortunately, power forward John Collins, a key cog for Atlanta on and off the floor, missed the Hawks’ final three games before the All-Star break with a right foot strain and was unable to participate in practice Tuesday. Collins didn’t do any running and was limited to spot-up shooting, according to Hawks coach Nate McMillan.

But, on Tuesday Collins said he was improving as far as how the foot actually feels, having gotten some rest and treatment over the All-Star break.

“Feeling better,” Collins said. “Making progress, definitely. I don’t feel like I’ve taken any negative steps. Making progress every day. Trying to make sure I’m back 100% and ready to go, sticking to the plan really and just trying to feel better.”

Collins’ foot had been bothering him off and on entering the Hawks’ Feb. 11 loss to the Spurs, and after a few bad landings in that game, he ended up leaving in the third quarter after his foot tightened up on him. Collins said Tuesday that he doesn’t feel like the injury will keep him out for long, and the Hawks are trying to rest him so he can fully recover and not risk re-tweaking it.

“That’s sort of been the process, rest and let it heal a little bit, then slowly, gradually introduce impact and all that stuff,” Collins said.

There’s no timetable for Collins’ return yet, and the prospect of him missing more time is tough on him and the Hawks. As of Tuesday, they occupy the East’s No. 10 spot but are hoping to climb rapidly in the season’s final third, which begins Thursday in Chicago.

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“Extremely eager,” Collins said about wanting to get back playing. “Not a great time for me to go out at all. I don’t think anybody likes going out, but just to go out right now, at a crucial, pivotal point, a couple games out of the playoffs. And we just want to make the most of all the games we get. So definitely not ideal. That’s why I’m praying and doing everything I can to hopefully get back a little sooner and get right.”

Right now, the biggest parts of his game affected are explosiveness and speed, he thinks. He also added that his pain level isn’t high, another positive sign.

“I definitely feel like we’re doing the right things, taking the right steps to make me feel better, trying to get small things, orthotics, foot treatment, whatever we can do,” Collins said. “Not to speak from history, or experience, but I don’t have a big injury record, so I’m hoping I can heal it and get it right... On whatever day I feel good I want to keep feeling like that.”