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May 22, 2024

Young’s Concussion Clouds Hawks’ Playoff Hopes

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Jan 21, 2024

All-Star point guard Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol after suffering a head injury during Saturday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Young’s injury comes at a critical juncture of the Hawks’ season as they vie for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.

Injury Occurs in Critical Game

Young suffered the injury late in the third quarter of Saturday’s game. He stole the ball from Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell and was racing up the court when Mitchell chased him down and fouled him. Young’s head crashed hard to the floor and he remained down for several minutes before being helped to the locker room.

The Hawks led 73-63 when Young exited the game. However, his absence proved too much to overcome as the Cavaliers rallied to win 99-92. Young had scored 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting prior to leaving the game.

“Losing Trae was a huge blow for us,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “He was having another All-Star caliber performance and we struggled to find a rhythm without him.”

Extent of Injury Still Unknown

The Hawks have not provided a timeline for Young’s return. Players are required to follow a graduated protocol before being cleared from concussions, making their recovery timeline harder to predict.

Young will have to complete a progression of activities without experiencing any concussion symptoms before being allowed back on the court. This includes light aerobic exercise, basketball specific drills, non-contact team practices, and finally full-contact team practices. Each step usually takes 24 hours to complete before advancing to the next.

Stage Activity
1 Light aerobic exercise (stationary bike, elliptical)
2 Basketball specific drills (shooting, dribbling)
3 Non-contact team practices
4 Full contact team practices
5 Return to game action

“We will take things very slow with Trae and proceed cautiously through each step,” Snyder said about the rehabilitation plan. “There is no set timeline on concussion recoveries.”

Impacts Race for East Playoff Positioning

The loss to Cleveland dropped the Hawks to 25-22 on the season, just percentage points ahead of the Knicks for the 6th seed in the East. The gap between the 6th and 7th spots is significant, as only the top 6 teams avoid the play-in tournament to qualify directly for the playoffs.

With Young sidelined indefinitely, the Hawks upcoming schedule poses significant challenges. Nine of their next eleven games come against teams currently ranked in the top eight of their respective conferences.

Date Opponent Record
Jan 22 @ Kings 27-17
Jan 24 @ Trail Blazers 19-26
Jan 26 @ Warriors 28-15
Jan 28 @ Clippers 26-21
Jan 30 Heat 27-20
Feb 1 Suns 31-13

Complicating matters is that the 7th-10th seeds in the East all have win percentages within one game of the Hawks. Every game will be critical for Atlanta to hold on to its tenuous playoff position until Young can return.

“We understand the challenges ahead and know we have little margin for error,” said guard Dejounte Murray, who will step into the starting point guard role. “But this team has resilience and we are prepared to step up however needed to weather this storm.”

Eyes Remain Fixed on Playoffs

Fortunately for the Hawks, last year’s Eastern Conference Finals appearance and the offseason addition of Murray gives the roster valuable playoff experience to lean on. Young’s absence will require others to elevate their games, but the team culture established provides optimism within the locker room.

“We can’t replace Trae’s unique talent, but this team showed last year that we are capable of advancing in the playoffs through team effort and unity,” Snyder said about the roster’s mental outlook.

Veteran forward John Collins emphasized the “next man up” mentality. “Losing our best player hurts, but it’s also a chance for others to seize opportunities. We need total team commitment to reaching our goals.”

Collins and the rest of the Hawks starting unit will undoubtedly take on expanded roles, while reserves like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Onyeka Okongwu will see increased minutes. How well Atlanta navigates this adversity could define their season.

Timeline for Young’s Return Remains Unclear

While the team stays hopeful Young can beat typical concussion recovery timelines, the Hawks will surely face pressure to qualify for the postseason without their star player. Monitoring Young’s progress through the league mandated protocols remains the top priority.

“Right now we just want Trae to focus completely on his health and take however much time he needs,” Snyder said about expectations on his star point guard. “Our team goals can wait – we need him fully healed first. His long term well-being is what matters most.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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