Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that the 30-year-old All-Star forward suffered a "right shoulder contusion and mild sprain" in this collision with Earl Clark late in the second quarter of Atlanta's Saturday win over the Brooklyn Nets:
Millsap left and would not return, finishing with eight points, five assists, three rebounds, a steal and a block in 17 minutes of work. Even without his services, Atlanta cruised to a 32-point win over a Nets team that had won six straight games to get back into the East's playoff race.
The Hawks confirmed Vivlamore's report on Monday, noting that "the injury is not considered serious" while ruling Millsap out for the Hawks' next two games before re-evaluating him. That's welcome news for Atlanta's next two opponents.
Tuesday's foe, the Phoenix Suns, remain mathematically in the hunt for the West's No. 8 seed, sitting 10th at 39-38, three games back of the Oklahoma City Thunder and 2 1/2 games behind the ninth-place New Orleans Pelicans. On Wednesday, Atlanta once again faces the Nets, who occupy seventh place in the Eastern bracket, just a half-game ahead of the Boston Celtics and 1 1/2 games up on the ninth-place Indiana Pacers, and will take on a shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers side in Monday's lone NBA game. Getting to face a Hawks team without its leading scorer and rebounder certainly wouldn't figure to hurt their chances of staying in their respective playoff battles.
[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
It wouldn't seem to hurt Atlanta, either. The Hawks have already clinched home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs and can't catch the Golden State Warriors for home-court throughout the entire postseason. While you'd expect Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer wouldn't mind seeing his team build up a bit of momentum heading into the postseason after going a middling 8-7 since last month's big home win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the most important thing Atlanta can do over the next six games is get as healthy as possible.
As our own Eric Freeman wrote Saturday, the only time the Hawks have looked truly mediocre this season was when sharpshooting guard Kyle Korver missed several games with a broken nose; sometimes, all it can take for a juggernaut to start looking jumbled is the absence of one key piece. That might be especially true of Millsap. Four Hawks lineups have shared the floor for at least 100 minutes this season, with three decimating the competition and a fourth getting its doors blown off; the former all feature Millsap, and the latter does not. Topping the likes of the still-on-the-rampage Cleveland Cavaliers and whichever monster comes out of the West will require all hands on deck in Atlanta, even if that means giving your power forward a couple of days off to rest up before the second season begins.
- - - - - - -