Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday after missing the Milwaukee Bucks’ past two games because of a hyperextended left knee.
Antetokounmpo was injured in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said earlier Monday that Antetokounmpo was able to do some on-court work separately from the team’s afternoon practice. When asked what specific exercises and movements Antetokounmpo was able to do without pain, Budenholzer declined to answer.
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“He’s had a good day,” Budenholzer said. “He’s making good progress.”
The NBA announced that because Antetokounmpo’s status was uncertain for Game 1, he was exempt from speaking to reporters on Monday.
After injuring his knee against the Hawks, Antetokounmpo was able to do work on the basketball court for the first time on Saturday. Before then, he had only been able to perform exercises in the weight room, according to Budenholzer.
Without their two-time MVP in the final two games of the East finals, the Bucks prevailed behind dominant play from Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez.
“When Giannis is out there, a lot of times we can just give him the ball and let him go to work and let him orchestrate a lot of things out there,” Middleton said. “Without him, we have to do it by committee.”
Bobby Portis started in both games Antetokounmpo missed, while Middleton scored a combined 64 points and Holiday added 60.
Without Antetokounmpo, Holiday believed he needed to fill some of the offensive void and make up for some of the gap in attacking the basket.
“[I’m trying to] just continue to be aggressive,” Holiday said. “No letdowns, because the way Giannis [plays], there are no letdowns. He’s continuously going to the basket, being aggressive on both ends of the floor. He does so much for this team that I just felt like losing that would be really hard for us.”
Middleton said he has tried to support Antetokounmpo by suggesting the big man not hurry back before he is ready.
“[I told him] don’t rush back in and put yourself at a greater risk for a greater injury,” Middleton said. “He’s a guy — he puts so much time and effort into his body to be the best version of himself also.”
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