July 18, 2024

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Giannis Antetokounmpo injury update: Bucks star out for Game 2 vs. Heat with back contusion

Giannis Antetokounmpo injury update: Bucks star out for Game 2 vs. Heat with back contusion

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will not play in Game 2 of the team’s first-round series against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, head coach Mike Budenholzer said. Antetokounmpo, who suffered a back contusion in the Bucks’ Game 1 defeat, has done some on-court work and was upgraded to questionable prior to the game, but was not cleared to play.

“He’s gotten better each day, he’s improving, which gives up optimism that he might be able to play, and if you’re not questionable then it’s not an option,” Budenholzer said. “The only way to give us the optionality of him playing was to make him questionable and he’s continued to improve, but organizationally and talking and working with him and the sports performance group, the decision was made he’s out. We’ll continue to monitor him and expect for him to improve and still continue to be optimistic that he’ll be ready to play.”

In the middle of the first quarter of Game 1, Antetokounmpo took a swing pass from Joe Ingles and drove hard to the basket. As he took off for the rim from just outside the charge circle, Kevin Love slid underneath in an attempt to take a charge. Antetokounmpo had his legs taken out in the process and crashed hard to the floor on his lower back. 

The play was ruled a blocking foul on Love, and Antetokounmpo remained in the game to shoot his free throws, then continued playing for a few more minutes before checking out at the end of his usual first quarter stint. Upon exiting the game, he went straight to the locker room, but was back out on the bench for the start of the second quarter. 

With 9:56 remaining in the second quarter, Antetokounmpo checked back into the game and went through a series of twists and jumps near mid-court to try and loosen up his back. He only lasted a little over a minute, however, and subbed back out with 8:33 on the clock. Moving gingerly, he again went right down the tunnel to the locker room and was officially ruled out a short time later. 

The Bucks were trailing by eight when Antetokounmpo left the game and never truly recovered. A run in the third quarter briefly cut the deficit to three, but they trailed by double digits for large portions of the second half and eventually lost by 13. 

Milwaukee has plenty of experience playing without Antetokounmpo, both this season when he missed 19 games and in the 2021 playoffs when he suffered a hyperextended knee in the Eastern Conference finals. It goes without saying, though, that they would prefer to have their two-time MVP on the floor. 

“We don’t want him to be hurt, but it’s still next man up mentality,” Jrue Holiday said. “We have enough talent on this team to cover for him until he comes back or possibly comes back. Again, I just don’t want to see him hurt because I know what it feels like, especially Game 1 of the playoffs.”

During the regular season, Antetokounmpo averaged 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He was the only player in the league to put up at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists a night, and the Bucks were 47-16 when he played compared to 11-8 when he sat.