The contact is accidental, but the impact is huge.
Late in the third quarter of Game 3 of Sunday’s Eastern Conference Finals, Tre Young stepped on referee Shawn Wright’s foot. As a result, he sprained his right ankle.
“I stepped on that guy’s ankle,” Yang said after the game.
During treatment in the locker room, he missed nearly four minutes of the game. When he came back, he was no longer the same player, and of course, Atlanta was no longer the same team.
“I’m back, it hurts a bit, and… I really can’t be as fast as I thought, and when I do this, it hurts,” he told reporters.
This allowed Yang, who was playing a monster game, to play for seven minutes in the fourth quarter. His field goal percentage is 1 of 4 (three-pointers) and turnovers. He obeyed his teammates and they can’t make up for it. Atlanta made 7 of 18 shots (1 of 8 from 3) and turned the ball over four times in the last 12 minutes.
“When he returned to the bench, I was told he was free,” Eagles coach Nate McMillan said. “Once he went out, I saw that his movements were not very good. When I took him out for the last few seconds, he couldn’t look back. I was basically looking for an offense/defense rotation.
The Hawks went from a three-point lead at the time of injury to an 11-point loss of 113-102. They are now 2-1 in the series. For them, things may not return to normal soon.
Game 4 is scheduled to be held in Atlanta on Tuesday. Young will have an MRI on Monday.
“Just got treatment, hope the next game feels better,” he said.
If Young is restricted or out on Tuesday, McMillan can push Louis Williams to this point. He also hopes that the shooters Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter (14 from 41 shots on Sunday) will all play better.
Of course, the best option is to get Yang-with a team-high 35 points in the third game-close to full speed.
If he doesn’t get better by Tuesday, then the Hawks’ progress to the NBA Finals may come to an abrupt end.