Trae Young expected to play ‘normal’ amount of minutes in Play-in clash against Bulls

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The Hawks ended their regular season run with a 36-46 mark and were able to finally squeeze themselves into the Western Conference’s Play-in tournament, with a small chance to qualify to the NBA Playoffs if they are able to beat the Bulls who play with a homecourt advantage.

As Trae Young is almost back to being 100% healthy, his recovery stands as a light in hopes of overcoming a season filled with injuries. After playing the past three matches at the end of the regular campaign, he saw his minutes restricted due to his 23-game absence.

This upcoming Wednesday, as they enter the Play-in with a six-match losing streak, he’s expected to return back to his normal amount of minutes in this do-or-die clash in Chicago. Young averaged 25.7 points this year, but was only able to drop 14, 19 and 12 points in his last three contests.

“I feel a lot better,” Trae told the press after Monday’s training session. The player seemed more confident after being given 32 minutes on the court, despite losing 157-115 to the Pacers the night before and only posting 12 points and 11 assists. “I’m just trying to make sure I can play at least close to my minutes that I played in the regular season in play-in games.”

Atlanta will be without two other key players from their frontcourt, as both big man Onyeka Okongwu and young forward Jalen Johnson are out for this Play-in matchup. As if it wasn’t enough, the team had already lost Saddiq Bey to a season-ending knee injury.

“That’s just something, as I’ve said, really, it’s no different than throughout the course of the year,” expressed coach Quin Snyder. “The guys that you do have, they have to be ready to go and have to play at a high level, and you can’t lament those things. So we’ll be ready.”

One of the players who will be missed the most is Johnson, who produced averages of 16 points and 8.7 rebounds, and will be out of action for at least three weeks with a right ankle sprain. “Obviously you just play the cards you’re dealt,” Young shared. “That’s just my mentality. You know I feel like we can still win with the players we have, so I’m going to go out there and try to do it.”

The Bulls locker room hope they can overcome this Play-in clash after a year fulls of “ups and downs”

Now the Chicago team have the chance to make something out of their inconsistent season and make it to the Playoffs. After losing last night to the Knicks in overtime, the Bulls finished 9th and will face the Hawks with homecourt advantage in the Play-in tournament.

Despite the ups and downs, their coach is proud of the team. “I told the guys I couldn’t be prouder or feel more privileged to work with these guys every day,” Billy Donovan said. “And the reason I say that is because of things they’ve had to endure this season as a team.”

DeMar DeRozan, on the other hand, says the locker room bonded throughout the season after their bad results. “To be honest, we had some lows that, for me, means the most,” he said after becoming only the second player over 30 years of age to ever lead the league in minutes.

“I ain’t gonna give it away of when, but there was a time it got extremely rough for my part,” the veteran expressed. “The bond and the closeness we had after that meant a lot. So even though it was an extremely bad moment, it meant a lot for us to change over the season.”