Paul Millsap sits on the bench shortly after suffering shoulder injury. (AP photo)
The latest chapter in this dream of a Hawks’ season: a 131-99 dismembering of the Brooklyn Nets, a potential playoff opponent, for their franchise record-tying 57th win.
The potential season nightmare coming from the same game: Paul Millsap laying on the court in agony.
Millsap, arguably their best player in what has been their best season, suffered a right shoulder injury late in the second quarter when he collided with Brooklyn’s Earl Clark. Both players were going for a loose ball. Millsap fell to the court and was on his back for a few minutes. He eventually left the court with a team trainer, did not return and was not available for comment afterward.
Predictably, coach Mike Budenholzer offered little about Millsap’s injury after the Hawks’ lopsided 131-99 win over the Nets: “We’ll evaluate more tomorrow and Monday. I don’t know any more. I can’t guess any more.”
Budeholzer’s view of the play: “I thought he got run over. It was a loose ball, two guys going for it. I think he got hit pretty good.”
This was the Hawks’ biggest fear. They have only six games left in the regular season and they already have clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The only thing left to be determined is their first-round opponent. It could be be the Nets, who despite the loss, remained seventh overall in the East at 35-41, one-half game ahead of No. 8 Boston (35-42) and one ahead of No. 9 Miami (34-42). Regardless of their playoff opponent, the Hawks’ only concern is having everybody healthy.
As for Brooklyn, imagine the irony if the Hawks wound up facing the Nets and Joe Johnson in the first round? The Johnson trade in 2012 started the team’s rebuilding project — and nobody understands that more than the former Hawks’ guard. For more on that with comments from Johnson, click here.