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ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JUNE 29: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is helped off the court after being injured on a play against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals at State Farm Arena on June 29, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo : Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Milwaukee Bucks heaved a huge sigh of relief on Wednesday as star player Giannis Antetokounmpo avoided major injury after a traumatic fall in their Game 4 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, no structural damage was found on Antetokounmpo’s left knee with an MRI also showing that his ligaments are all sound.
Giannis hyperextended left knee, may sit out Game 5
Antetokounmpo suffered the injury against the Hawks with just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, with the Bucks initially diagnosing it as a hyperextended knee.
The Greek Freek had jumped up to contest an alley-oop pass for Clint Capela from John Collins. The impact from that challenge resulted in Antetokounmpo landing awkwardly on his left leg with his knee buckling.
Antetokounmpo immediately screamed in pain as he fell to the floor, staying down for several minutes with players and coaches from both the Bucks and Hawks surrounding him.
He was helped to his feet by his brother and teammate, Thanasis, with television monitors showing the two-time MVP walking back to the locker room without assistance, although a significant limp was observed.
The question now is will Giannis be ready for the pivotal Game 5, with the Bucks listing him as doubtful for Thursday’s all-important game. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was hopeful of Antetokounmpo’s return, saying, “We’ll just take it day by day and see how he’s doing. When you talk about the range of possibilities, I think where this has landed has to be looked at as a positive. It’s still a really difficult fall.”
Antetokounmpo has been a beast for the Bucks in the postseason, averaging 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists in these playoffs. The Bucks will take comfort in the fact that they fared quite well during the regular season when Giannis was sidelined. They went 6-5 in the 11 regular-season games that Antetokounmpo missed, including a six-game stretch back in April when he was also dealing with an injured left knee.
However, three of those five losses came when the Bucks rested the majority of their regular starters. The Bucks know they can do it without Giannis, but it will take a total team effort for them to win this series.
Middleton and Holiday needs to step up
With Milwaukee playing a short rotation, expect the Bucks to extend the minutes of future Olympians Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton in Game 5. They are already averaging 38.5 and 36.8 minutes per game, respectively, in the series against the Hawks.
Middleton will need to get his game going after a sub-par performance in Game 4. After exploding for 38 points in Game 3, Middleton struggled on Tuesday, scoring just 16 points on 6 of 17 shooting from the floor, including 0 for 7 from beyond the arc. Middleton will need to find ways to score against Kevin Huerter, who limited him to 0 for 6 shooting when they faced each other in Game 4.
Antetokounmpo is not the only injury concern heading into Game 5. The Hawks also have some injury problems of their own as Trae Young and Clint Capela are questionable for Thursday’s critical clash.
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