How Hawks guard Trae Young's injury will impact the Boston Celtics

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How Trae Young's injury will impact the Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Atlanta Hawks suffered a tough loss against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. And it wasn't just the game.

While the Hawks fell by a final score of 137-127, the bigger loss for the Hawks came when Trae Young exited the game with an apparent ankle injury. He was able to put weight on it but had to be helped to the locker room very gingerly.

Now, the diagnosis is in for Young, and the injury isn't season-ending. As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Twitter, Young suffered a Grade 2 ankle sprain and will be able to return "once swelling and discomfort are gone."

Young being able to return is great news for the Hawks and the NBA, as he is one of the more dynamic, fun scorers to watch. That said, he still will miss time -- perhaps several weeks -- and that will have an impact on the Eastern Conference playoff race... and the Boston Celtics.

Though the C's don't have any games remaining with Atlanta, they're battling with the Hawks for playoff positioning. Before their game against the Suns, the Celtics were a half-game back of the Hawks for the No. 5 seed in the NBA and a half-game ahead of the Miami Heat for the league's No. 6 seed.

Essentially, the C's are trying to avoid the No. 7 seed, as that team will be a part of the NBA's play-in tournament this year. So are the other teams in the Eastern Conference, and it appears that there are four teams battling for four non-play-in spots in the East.

Seed

Team

Record

Game Back

4

New York Knicks

33-27

--

5

Atlanta Hawks

32-27

0.5

6

Boston Celtics

31-27

1

7

Miami Heat

31-28

1.5

In that tightly-contested battle, every remaining game will matter. Young's injury could swing some of the remaining Hawks games in favor of their opponent. The Hawks have gone 3-2 without Young this season, but their offense hasn't been about five points per game worse this season with him off the floor.

Young money

Hawks PPG with Young

114.2

Hawks PPG without Young

109

Variation

Double

And it's worth noting that their three wins without Young came against the Pelicans, Raptors, and Hornets, all teams that have losing records. Meanwhile, their two losses have come by 14+ points against the Jazz and the Bucks, two of the better teams in the NBA.

As such, it's fair to assume that the Hawks' performance will suffer down the stretch without Young. That should benefit the C's as they look to pull away from the pack in the East -- or at least further separate themselves from the seventh seed and the play-in tournament.

Maybe the Hawks will defy expectations without Young, or maybe he'll be able to return to action sooner than expected. But for now, if not, it looks like Atlanta could end up being the team that slides down the standings a bit, just like the Charlotte Hornets did when LaMelo Ball suffered a wrist injury.