Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray probably knew what was coming after he made ill-advised contact with an official following their loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 4, but it’ll still sting to miss what could be a season-ending Game 5. The NBA announced Monday that Murray will indeed be suspended for his actions.
Dejounte Murray appeared to say something to a ref after the Hawks’ Game 4 loss.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 24, 2023
Murray has been the best and most consistent performer for the Hawks in their first-round series against Boston, averaging 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from 3-point range.
For comparison, Hawks star Trae Young is averaging 26.8 points, 9.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 42.0 percent from the field and 31.0 percent from 3-point range.
That said, not only will Murray’s suspension leave the Hawks without their most consistent two-way performer, but it’ll also increase the defensive pressure the Celtics can comfortably put on Young. Whether that’s him being guarded by a bigger defender in Jaylen Brown or Boston being comfortable shrinking the court when he penetrates the lane, it doesn’t bode too well for Atlanta.
In Murray’s absence, the Hawks will need to get more from De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, and Saddiq Bey.
Hunter led a healthy Atlanta squad with 21.2 points per game in the 2022 NBA Playoffs but has averaged 16.8 points per game in their first-round series against the Celtics. Though not naturally aggressive, he’s a three-level scorer with a Kawhi Leonard-like offensive game when he gets it going.
Collins, Trae’s primary pick-and-roll partner since 2018, has averaged just 7.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as he continues to devolve as a player. He isn’t even doing damage from beyond the arc, shooting just 21.1 percent from 3-point range.
Bey, an in-season trade acquisition, hasn’t received much opportunity with so many offensive options. However, he probably could start in place of Murray, thanks to ability to impact the game on both ends as well.
The Hawks’ season is on the brink down 3-1, and they’ll have to win on the road without one of their stars. Things are not looking good in Atlanta.
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