As if it wasn’t hard enough to be forced to travel to Miami to take on the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, the Atlanta Hawks will be doing so at less than full strength.
Paul Millsap is not with the team in Miami due to right elbow tendinitis
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) November 19, 2013
On the surface, this seems harmless enough, as it seemingly came out of nowhere on Tuesday afternoon, but the team’s starting power forward (and top-3 player) has been reportedly dealing with this issue for sometime. Here’s a quote from head coach Mike Budenholzer (via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution):
“It’s just been bothering him,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s been something that has been a problem so hopefully a couple days of rest (will help). If we can try and get ahead of it instead of chasing it, that is what we are hoping.”
When dealing with a top-flight player, “hoping” is never terribly encouraging, but on the bright side, it seems like this will be a short-term stint on the sidelines for Millsap. Since signing what most people believe to be a “steal” of a contract (2 years, $19 million) in the off-season, the 28-year-old has performed extremely well for Atlanta. He has a 21.83 PER on the season, and he’s averaging 15.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in only 31.5 minutes.
In his absence on Tuesday, the Hawks will reportedly turn to Gustavo Ayon at the center position (moving Al Horford to power forward), and that downgrade won’t do them any favors in an attempt to upset Lebron James and the Heat.