ATLANTA (AP) — An MRI on DeMarre Carroll’s left knee showed no structural damage, and he hopes to play for Atlanta in Friday night’s Game 2 against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals, Carroll’s agent said Thursday.
Mark Bartelstein told The Associated Press that Carroll has only a knee sprain and “maybe a little” bone bruise. The Hawks confirmed the MRI showed only a knee sprain and said Carroll would be listed as questionable.
Asked about Carroll’s status, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said “we’re very hopeful.”
“I think sometimes you tend to think it could be the worst and right now everything we’re getting back is positive,” said Budenholzer, adding a decision will be made before Friday night’s game after consultations with Carroll and his doctors. He said Carroll will receive “24-hour treatment.”
“He will be getting whatever it takes and as much of it as possible,” Budenholzer said.
Carroll was seen walking without crutches at Philips Arena following his MRI. He was not made available for interviews but he said on his Twitter feed he was thankful for the good news.
Carroll’s knee appeared to buckle as he was driving to the basket with about 5 minutes left in the 97-89 loss to the Cavaliers. Carroll couldn’t put pressure on the leg as he was helped off the floor.
The fear was Carroll had suffered a significant injury that could end his postseason.
“Last night was a sleepless night,” Bartelstein said. “We’re all feeling very fortunate this morning.
“I know DeMarre. He’s going to do everything he can to get himself ready to play.”
The prospect of losing Carroll for a significant portion or the remainder of the series was daunting for the Hawks. Carroll was the team’s primary defender on Cleveland star LeBron James and has emerged as a top scorer in the postseason.
At 6-foot-7, Carroll provides the size needed for the difficult matchup against James, who led the Cavaliers with 31 points in Wednesday night’s game.
James said he was glad to hear Carroll didn’t suffer a serious injury, but added he didn’t expect the forward to play in Game 2.
“If he’s able to go tomorrow night I’d be very surprised, but it would be good to see him back on the floor at some point because you don’t want to end your season on something that looked like it was a season-ending injury,” James said.
Carroll was Atlanta’s leading scorer in the first two rounds of the playoffs with 17.1 points per game. He had five points and two steals before the injury.
If Carroll can’t return for Game 2, guard Kent Bazemore may play a more prominent role. Bazemore filled in for Carroll on Wednesday night and helped lead a late comeback that fell short.
The 6-foot-5 Bazemore said “I’m 200 pounds, soaking wet,” which makes for a difficult assignment against James (6-8, 250).
“I’ve got my hands full,” Bazemore said.
Bazemore described Carroll as a “warrior” and said he expects Carroll to play “if it’s up to him.”
AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd contributed to this report.
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