Friday, April 29, 2011
Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) doubtful
By Michael Wallace
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks are preparing to be without injured starting point guard Kirk Hinrich when their second-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls starts Monday.
Hinrich underwent an MRI test Friday on his right leg, which revealed a significant strain to his right hamstring. Hinrich is considered doubtful for Game 1 in Chicago. He sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of Thursday's series-clinching win against Orlando when he landed awkwardly on a drive to the basket.
Hinrich did not return to the game and was in a wheelchair as players left Philips Arena on Thursday night. Hawks coach Larry Drew said Friday that Hinrich was upbeat when the team gathered for meetings, but Drew wasn't certain if the defensive-oriented guard would be ready for Monday's game.
"I saw him when he was leaving the building, and his spirits were really good, but he was limping," Drew said. "And that was not a good sign."
The Hawks were counting on Hinrich to play a pivotal role against Chicago, which won two of the three regular-season meetings between the teams. Hinrich was assigned the defensive task of trying to contain Derrick Rose.
If he is unable to play -- or is limited by the injury -- Drew said Jamal Crawford, Joe Johnson, Damien Wilkins and Jeff Teague could all spend time on Rose.
"It certainly changes things," Drew said. "He's our starting point guard. Hopefully he'll be able to go. But if he's not, we'll have to make an adjustment. Not really knowing whether Kirk can go or if he can't go, if he can play some or can't play at all, a lot of that will change things."
Hawks players said Hinrich will be valuable in the series no matter how much he contributes on the court in the first few games. Hinrich spent his first seven seasons with the Bulls before he was traded last summer to the Washington Wizards, who dealt him to the Hawks in February.
Hinrich has averaged 13 points, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals over eight seasons and is considered one of the top defensive point guards in the league. Even with a healthy Hinrich, the Hawks expect to have their hands full with Rose, the league's top MVP candidate who averaged 27.3 points and 6.2 assists in Chicago's first-round series against the Indiana Pacers.
"It's tough," Crawford said. "Kirk is the head of our defense. He's the guy who makes stuff happen from the start. I just hope he's healthy enough to get out there. He knows their system. He knows their players as well as anybody. He can definitely give us some insight. We'll definitely pick his brain during timeouts and stuff."
Michael Wallace covers the NBA for ESPN.com.