2024 SoFi Play-In Tournament

Hawks' Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu out to open postseason

Atlanta's frontcourt will be thinned as two key players will be out the next few weeks.

Jalen Johnson suffered a right ankle injury in Tuesday’s loss to the Miami Heat.

The Atlanta Hawks will be shorthanded for the start of their postseason run. The team announced Thursday that forward Jalen Johnson and center Onyeka Okongwu are both sidelined with injuries for the next several weeks.

Johnson will be out for approximately three weeks with a lateral sprain in his right ankle, while Okongwu will be out for roughly four weeks due to inflammation in his left big toe.

Johnson was initially hurt in the third quarter of the Hawks’ 117-111 double-overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday. He turned his right ankle during a key run in the quarter and walked back to the locker room. He did not return and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

Per the Hawks, Okongwu underwent a non-surgical procedure on Tuesday at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute to address ongoing inflammation in his left big toe. He has been out of the Hawks’ lineup since mid-February.

Impact on the Hawks: The loss of Johnson and Okongwu for Atlanta couldn’t come at a worse time, perhaps. The team got All-Star guard Trae Young back in the lineup on Wednesday and he finished with 14 points in a 115-114 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

Johnson has enjoyed a breakout season, averaging 16 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists, and has started 52 of 56 games. Before this season, he mostly served as a reserve for the Hawks. Earlier in 2023-24, he missed nearly a month from late November to late December with a left wrist fracture.

Okongwu (10.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 bpg) is enjoying a career-best season, although injuries have marred his campaign. He has played well as the primary backup to starting center Clint Capela and remains a solid interior defender when healthy.

Overall, the Hawks have been limited by a long list of injuries and were without Johnson and Okongwu vs. the Hornets in addition to missing guard Dejounte Murray (right quad contusion) and forward De’Andre Hunter (rest). Additionally, the Hawks have been playing without Saddiq Bey since mid-March after the swingman suffered a season-ending torn ACL.

The Hawks (36-44) are locked into the SoFi Play-In Tournament and are the No. 10 seed overall. They cannot climb higher than No. 9, which is currently occupied by the Chicago Bulls (37-42).

Atlanta will close its season on the road, visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday (8 ET, NBA League Pass) before closing out the 2023-24 regular season against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday (1 ET, NBA League Pass).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.