The Bucks will be without a pair of rotation players when their season resumes on Friday against the Celtics, as head coach Mike Budenholzer confirmed today that Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton will remain sidelined for now, per Eric Woodyard of ESPN.
Both Bledsoe and Connaughton tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the summer, delaying their arrivals to the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus. They’ve each cleared quarantine and have returned to practice, but Budenholzer believes the two veterans need a little more time to get their conditioning and rhythm up to par.
“Everybody else is getting ready to play in a live game and have had 10 to 12 to 14 days of probably 5-on-5 every other day and individual work and all that, so I think giving Bled and Pat a couple of 5-on-5 sessions at a minimum and getting some 3-on-3 in other situations or days,” Budenholzer said, per Woodyard. “They just need to play, so I think that’s a big hurdle and with playing will come both conditioning and their rhythm, so we’re going to make sure they get some of that before we put them in an NBA game.”
With a comfortable 6.5-game lead on the Raptors for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks can afford to play it safe in the seeding games as they gear up for the postseason. They’ll want Bledsoe and Connaughton to be back at 100% by the time the playoffs get underway on August 17.
Bledsoe, Milwaukee’s starting point guard, averaged 15.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, and 4.6 RPG and played strong perimeter defense in 56 games (27.2 MPG) this season. Connaughton provided depth on the wing, averaging 5.1 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 61 contests (18.3 MPG).
The duo hasn’t been ruled out beyond Friday, so it’s possible one or both of them will be ready to go on Sunday night when the Bucks face Houston.