The Milwaukee Bucks advanced to the 2021 NBA Finals by winning the last two games of the Eastern Conference Finals without injured superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Now Antetokounmpo is making his return for Game 1 against the Phoenix Suns as he tries to come back from a knee injury. He will start the game for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo left Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals after falling to the floor with a leg injury in the third quarter. Antetokounmpo was ruled out for the game and diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee.
Antetokounmpo was attempting to contest Hawks center Clint Capela at the rim when his left leg buckled. The Bucks star laid on the floor for several minutes before being helped off the court and heading to the locker room. The Hawks won the game, 110-88, to tie the series 2-2.
There is no structural damage to Antetokounmpo’s knee, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Giannis did not play in Game 5 or Game 6 of the conference finals as the Bucks took home two victories to advance to the NBA Finals. Antetokounmpo was originally listed as doubtful for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, but his status was upgraded to questionable hours before the game. Now we know he’s in the lineup.
Here’s a look at the play that Antetokounmpo was injured on.
This is the Giannis knee injury. It looks gruesome, but hoping it isn't pic.twitter.com/DjuGLeV91F— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) June 30, 2021
The Bucks star was helped off the floor by his older brother, Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Giannis was able to put some weight on his leg as he moved off the court.
Giannis went down and was helped off the court with an apparent left leg injury. pic.twitter.com/fTWyfiaWeg— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 30, 2021
The Hawks were leading 62-52 at the time of the injury.
Milwaukee entered the game with a 2-1 series lead, and became a heavy favorite when Atlanta star Trae Young was ruled out pregame with a deep bone bruise in his right foot. Young’s status for the rest of the series also remains unknown.
Antetokounmpo had 14 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes when he left the game with injury. He had just made a brilliant block and dunk minutes earlier.
Injuries have been the biggest story of the NBA Playoffs since they started. The NBA tried to cram as many games as possible into this season coming off the bubble while still trying to finish the NBA Finals before the Olympics started. The second half of the schedule felt particularly rushed, and many have attributed the widespread injuries to stars to its frantic pace.
Giannis had an MRI on Wednesday, and it revealed no structural damage.
There is no structural damage to Giannis Antetokounmpo's left knee after his awkward landing last night in Atlanta; ligaments are sound, sources tell @wojespn and I. Timetable to return is unclear.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 30, 2021
We’ll update this story with more on Antetokounmpo’s status when there’s an update.