Hawks holding out hobbled Trae Young in Game 3 against Bucks

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young grabs his ankle after falling to the floor against the Milwaukee Bucks during the third quarter in Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball finals, Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young will miss the Atlanta Hawks’ Game 4 of their Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night due to an ankle injury.

An MRI on Monday revealed Young suffered a bone bruise in his right ankle. He is being held out despite participating in a shootaround early Tuesday.

Young suffered the injury late in the third quarter of Sunday night’s 113-102 Game 3 loss when he stepped on referee Sean Wright’s foot and turned his ankle.

The Bucks lead the series 2-1. Without Young, the Hawks’ task of rallying in the series became significantly more difficult.

Lou Williams is starting at Young’s point guard position.

Young has averaged 29.8 points and 9.5 assists in the postseason. He scored 48 points in Atlanta’s Game 1 win over the Bucks and had 35 points despite the injury in Game 3.

Young returned in the fourth quarter. Despite making one 3-pointer, clearly was limitedby the injury. He said after the game he injury limited “my blow-by speed.”

“That’s a big part of my game,” he said.

Hawks coach Nate McMillan said before the game that the Hawks have played through injuries all season, including “a game or two” without Young.

“We’ve been in this situation where we’ve had guys out,” McMillan said. “… Guys have stepped up all year long. We’ve had a lot of injuries this season. Our guys should be ready to go if called upon.”

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was expecting Young to play.

“You prepare as if he is going to play,” Budenholzer said, adding without Young “I would expect the ball to be in Lou Williams’ hands more.”

Shooting guard Kevin Huerter also could assume more ball-handling duties.

Backup center Onyeka Oknogwu said Young was “looking good” in the shootaround. While the report was encouraging, the light practice may not have been an adequate test of Young’s ability to push off the ankle.

Williams, the veteran backup, assumes a more prominent role in only his second start with Atlanta this season. He played with Atlanta from 2012-14 before returning to the Hawks this season in a trade-deadline deal that sent Rajon Rondo to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Williams has averaged 6.5 points in the postseason, including only a combined 13 points in the first three games against Milwaukee.

Depth at the position could be a problem. Guard Brandon Goodwin has missed the postseason with a minor respiratory condition. He started five of his 47 games in the regular season.

“Lou has been in this league for a long time,” Okongwu said. “He’s ready for the moment. He knows what he has to do alongside all of us. We know what we have to do tonight.”

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