DeMarre Carroll’s Injury Changes the Hawks-Cavs Series

Updated: May 21, 2015

The best season in the Atlanta Hawks’ history may have ended before the end of its first Eastern Conference Final game appearance.

DeMarre Carroll may be the lone starter for the Hawks to have not been named to any All-Star festivities this season, but he is the team’s best defender, and thus was given the assignment of guarding LeBron James.

It was announced Tuesday that Carroll, who injured his left knee with 4:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, suffered a left knee sprain and “maybe a little” bone bruise, according his agent Mark Bartelstein. He is currently listed as day-to-day.

Coach Mike Budenholzer is holding out hope that the 6’8″ forward would return for the series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“He’s such a great teammate,” Budenholzer said. “Everybody’s just concerned for DeMarre, and I’m hoping that he’s healthy and ready to help us as soon as possible.”

Hawks guard Jeff Teague went on to label Carroll as the team’s best player in the postseason, something the Hawks would surely miss if he doesn’t return. “DeMarre’s been our glue guy all year, been playing well in the playoffs, been our best player in the past couple of series,” Teague said. “Hopefully, he can get back healthy soon, but one of the guys in there has to step up.” And while it’s unclear if Carroll will return for this series, his absence not only allows for James to have more free will in the post, but it also benefits the lineups out on the court, for the Cavs.

With Carroll out, Budenholzer and the rest of the Hawks’ coaching staff will have to make adjustments to guarding James in Game Two. And while it’s uncertain as to how any adjustments will go, it’s clear that one superstar has the ability to outsmart four All-Stars.

Hawks guard Kent Bazemore is considered to be the odds-on-favorite to replace Carroll in the starting lineup, and be given the assignment of guarding James. But it’s unclear how the 6’5″ guard will perform, if he’s given the assignment.

Prior to the start of the Hawks-Cavs series, James had seen the likes of both Jae Crowder and Jimmy Butler guard him one-on-one. But Carroll was the one player, of the three this past season, to have caused the most problems for James in the regular season, allowing him to score 71 points on a combined 26-49 in three of the four total games he played in.

Overall, this series becomes more favorable for the Cavs, even giving them a better chance sweep the Hawks, if Carroll doesn’t return. But as James said after Game One, the team won by executing the team’s game plan. “Throughout these six days, we’ve kind of been balancing ways we can try to, not stop what they do, but just try to limit some of their touches, limit some of Kyle Korver’s touches and some of their other three point shooters,” James said after the game.

The likelihood of the Cavs facing the winner of Golden State/Houston series reached maximum level Wednesday night. However, each team has been playing competitive basketball at a high level for about a month now, thus, the ending result of this series is unpredictable. Especially after the Cavs almost gave up a 14-point lead.

Bartelstein updated The Associated Press on Tuesday on Carroll’s rehab prognosis for Friday’s game.

“He’s going to get treated around the clock for the next 36 hours, and then we’ll see how he feels,” Bartelstein said. “I know DeMarre. He’s going to do everything he can to get himself ready to play.

Game 2 is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. tip-off on Friday.

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