Last Tuesday night against the Heat, Trae Young tumbled to the floor in excruciating pain, holding onto his ankle. Thankfully, both his X-Rays and MRI were negative, and before Thursday night’s rematch with the Heat, Young was already itching to play. But the Hawks played it cautiously and wisely chose to sit him out, considering four days of rest followed.
Yesterday, Young tested out the ankle at practice and said afterward, it felt “great,” which means he should return to the starting lineup as expected tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.
Greg Popovich’s squad is 4-2 on the young season, with their only losses coming to the Clippers and Lakers. They are led by a couple of headliners, Demar Derozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, but it’s their youthful, budding supplementary pieces that are going to make San Antonio a threat once again in the Western Conference.
Dejounte Murray, who the Spurs inked to an extension this offseason even after he missed all of last season, is off to a spectacular start in his return, averaging 14.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in just 23.4 minutes – good for a team-leading 27.24 PER, as San Antonio eases him back into things. It might not be long before he’s talked about as the Spurs best player.
Derrick White is another promising point guard that recently played for Coach Pop on Team USA as well. He dominated the Hawks in their two meetings last season, averaging 20.5 points and six assists, and is off to another hot start this year. However, I have a feeling Trae Young might have a little something extra for White after Pop rolled with his guy over Young for one of the final spots on Team USA.
That is if Young even has another gear. The second-year point guard is averaging 26.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 5.0 rebounds on over 50% from the field and 50% from the three-point range. And those stats aren’t even an accurate representation of how good he’s really been. They include the game in which he suffered an ankle injury and only played eleven minutes, scoring five points. In his other three games, Young scored 38, 39, and 25 points respectively, while dishing out nine assists in each.
In his absence, the Hawks struggled mightily. What was a close game at the time of the injury against the Heat, turned into a blowout quickly. Atlanta met Miami again last Thursday at home, scoring only 97 points and shooting 40.9% from the field. A few Hawks did step up while Young was out, however. John Collins was his typical self, while DeAndre’ Bembry and Jabari Parker made substantial impacts off the bench. The combination of the two has the Hawks’ second unit looking far better early on than it did a year ago.
No surprise – the Spurs have owned this series of late. They had won eleven in a row before the Hawks finally took one during the 2016-2017 season. The two teams split the following year again, but the Spurs took both from Atlanta last season. San Antonio leads the series 55-38 all-time. The game will take place at State Farm Arena at 7:30 PM ET.