Before Monday’s 103-100 win over the 76ers, Atlanta Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan did a double-take when he saw his star point guard Trae Young take off his warmups to reveal tape on his right shoulder.
“When he took off his warmups, it was the first I saw that,” McMillan said after the game. “I haven’t gotten a report that he has an injury there, but obviously there is something going on with his shoulder. He hasn’t complained, I haven’t gotten a report they were treating his shoulder.”
It was an interesting exchange between Young and McMillan after the interim coach saw the taped shoulder.
“He gave me a look like, ‘I didn’t know about it,’ ” Young said after the game. “I told him I was fine and let’s go play, let’s go win.’”
The Hawks didn’t practice on Tuesday and will head into Game 5 Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center with renewed confidence after tying their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal with the Sixers at two games apiece.
By the time McMillan had a noon media conference on Tuesday, he said he hadn’t talked to Young yet that day.
“I am assuming he feels pretty good,” McMillan said. “Trae is a guy who doesn’t talk much about his injuries.”
That was pretty obvious since his coach didn’t know about it.
“Last night he came out, I thought early it seemed like it had an affect on his game, his shooting, his touch,” McMillan continued on Tuesday. “The second half, he was able to fight through that and find his rhythm and I haven’t had any reports, anything about Trae’s shoulder.”
Young appeared to be having trouble shooting, not only missing shots but being way off, especially as McMillan noted, early in the game.
Then again, it wasn’t just early that his shooting was off. Young finished the game shooting 8-for-26. He made up for his lack of shooting by tying his career-high of 18 assists.
As for the shoulder, he tried to downplay the injury afterward.
“I got hit last game and it got a little sore the past couple of days,” Young said
When asked if it affected him in the start of the game, he said, “For me, it wasn’t a bother. It was just fighting through it, knowing it was sore, trying to keep it warm throughout the game, that is pretty much what it was.”
And then Young refused to use his shoulder as an alibi for his shooting woes.
“I am not blaming my shooting on my arm,” he said. “I felt like I had a lot of good looks and shots weren’t going in. I have to be better at knocking down shots.”
Young’s worst quarter was the first, so maybe there was something to him warming up and getting accustomed to playing with the pain.
However, he didn’t really shoot well throughout the game.
Here is the breakdown each quarter from the field and three-point range.
First quarter: 0-5, 0-3
Second quarter: 3-7, 2-2
Third quarter: 3-9, 1-4
Fourth quarter: 2-5, 0-2
Total: 8-26, 3-11
Young, who had experienced poor second halves in the first three games, scored eight points in the fourth quarter, hitting all four of his foul shots.
When asked if the shoulder was loosening up by the fourth quarter, Young replied: “It was all on adrenaline at that point, I will probably feel it more right now, will probably feel it a little more [Tuesday]. I will continue to get treatment and stuff like that, but in the game and the moment, I didn’t feel it.”
No, but the Sixers felt the sting, especially when Young scored the Hawks’ final six points on a 7-foot floater and four free throws and made this once again a competitive series.