Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll left Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavaliers with a left knee sprain. 

By Ben Golliver
May 20, 2015

Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll was forced from action with a sprained left knee during a 97–89 loss to the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday.

With 4:59 remaining in the fourth quarter and Cleveland leading 90–76, Carroll attacked the basket from the right wing in transition. After Carroll made a move to get past Iman Shumpert, his left leg gave away as he prepared to plant to attempt a shot. Carroll immediately fell to the court in significant pain, and he appeared to be holding his left knee before requiring assistance to get to the locker room. 

Carroll departed with five points and three assists in 35 minutes. He was using crutches after the game and will undergo an MRI on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Carroll is regarded as Atlanta's top perimeter defender and a key chemistry guy. Entering the Eastern Conference finals, Carroll was pegged as one of the keys to slowing down LeBron JamesIf Carroll misses time, Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer will need to fill the minutes void using reserve guard Kent Bazemore. All-Star forward Paul Millsap picked up defensive responsibilities on James down the stretch of Game 1.

"DeMarre is a complete player," Budenholzer said during his postgame press conference. "He has a big impact on both ends of the court. Other people will have opportunities to make defensive plays and offensive plays. ... DeMarre is a perimeter defender and player. Most likely, [this means] more Kent Bazemore. [Forwards] Mike Scott and Mike Muscala are always ready. We have a lot of confidence in them. We’ll see what we learn [about Carroll's status on Thursday] and we’ll figure out what gives us our best chance."

[daily_cut.NBA]The Hawks are already playing without defensive-minded wing Thabo Sefolosha, who suffered a season-ending leg injury during a late-night incident outside a nightclub in April. Sefolosha later issued a statement in which he said that his injury was caused by the New York Police Department.​

A sixth-year pro out of Missouri, Carroll averaged 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 70 appearances this season and entered Wednesday averaging 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists during the postseason. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

James led the Cavaliers with a game-high 31 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. J.R. Smith hit eight three-pointers and finished with 28 points off the bench for Cleveland.

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Jeff Teague paced the Hawks with a team-high 27 points and four assists. Al Horford added 16 points and seven rebounds.  

Game 2 is set for Friday at Atlanta's Philips Arena. Cleveland holds a 1-0 series lead.

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