The Milwaukee Bucks were without their star Giannis Antetokounmpo in their 123-112 win in Game 5 to take control of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night. A win on Saturday night punches their ticket to the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns.
The story surrounding Milwaukee is whether Giannis will be able to return to the lineup for Game 6.
Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee in Game 4 on Tuesday and was listed as doubtful for Game 5 before eventually being pulled from the starting lineup.
Giannis appears to have injured his leg.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 30, 2021
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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe on Wednesday, the MRI showed no structural or ligament damage to the knee. However a timetable for Antetokounmpo’s return is still unknown.
Milwaukee head coach, Mike Budenholzer mentioned that Antetokounmpo did work out with weights at the team shootaround but did no on-court activities on Thursday. The “Greek Freak” has postseason averages of 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists.
The Bucks may have found the right adjustment to their starting lineup in Antetokounmpo’s absence. The Bucks moved Bobby Portis into the starting lineup and he rewarded their move by scoring a career playoff high 22 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.
Budenholzer believes that keeping things simple for the players and depending on their system will buy them time until Giannis returns.
“We’ve got a lot of talent, so I think just let the guys play,” he said, via ESPN. “Put them in a comfort level and put them in a comfortable spot and let them go play basketball, not over-complicated.
“We’ve played games without Giannis, without Khris Middleton, without Jrue Holiday, without whoever it may be, and so hopefully you have a structure and a system where you can function at a high level on both ends of the court no matter who is playing.”
Milwaukee’s record without their star in the regular season was 6-5.
The Bucks play Atlanta on the road in Game 6 Saturday night on TNT.