Central Notes: Giannis, White, Craig, Wade

Giannis Antetokounmpo will return to the Bucks‘ lineup tonight against Golden State after missing Monday’s game with left Achilles tendinitis, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Journal-Sentinel. Coach Doc Rivers confirmed Antetokounmpo’s status after watching him go through his pre-game warmup.

In a full story by Owczarski, Antetokounmpo talks about the career breakthrough he was able to make when he learned to “get over” himself and accept that his performance doesn’t always have to be the difference between winning and losing. Antetokounmpo adds that he feels like this is the most mature he has been since he entered the NBA.

“I’m able to get to my spot better and execute. And if the ball doesn’t go in, I’m OK with it,” he said. “I think it’s called abundance mentality. I know what I’ve done in the past and that gives me like, confidence, and I’m able to go out there and execute without thinking, not having self-doubts about myself or think I’m not good enough. Kind of like being OK with me. So, that allows me to play good basketball. Mentally, I’m in a very good place.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Coby White has emerged as one of the top candidates for Most Improved Player, notes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. White scored 37 points in a comeback victory Monday at Sacramento — the seventh time this season he has reached the 30-point mark. “It would mean a lot to me,” he said of the award. “Just to show the progress I’ve made and to set the example to younger guys around the NBA that people can count you out and say what you want about you. But as long as you stay true to who you are, keep working and stay humble throughout, things can come your way.”
  • Bulls wing Torrey Craig is getting close to returning from a sprained right knee that has kept him out of action since the All-Star break, Johnson tweets. Coach Billy Donovan told reporters, “There’s some optimism he could play tomorrow (at Golden State).”
  • Dean Wade‘s 20-point explosion in the fourth quarter against Boston on Tuesday showed why the Cavaliers were willing to give him a three-year extension and part with Kevin Love last season, states Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Wade’s production will become more important while Evan Mobley is sidelined with a sprained left ankle.
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