Bucks Preparing To Be Without Giannis For Start Of Playoffs

The Bucks are preparing to be without star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo when they tip off their first-round series vs. the Pacers on Sunday, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Antetokounmpo missed the final three games of the regular season due to an injury that the Bucks diagnosed as a left soleus (calf) strain. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that there was some “real doubt” about Giannis’ ability to return for Game 1 this weekend, so Wojnarowski’s update today doesn’t come as a major surprise.

According to Woj, the Bucks are hopeful that treatment on Antetokounmpo’s calf strain will allow the two-time MVP to return sometime later in the series. He has been undergoing treatment “around the clock,” sources tell ESPN.

It’s a bit of déjà vu for the Bucks, who saw their superstar go down with a back injury in Game 1 of their first-round series vs. Miami a year ago. That injury cost Antetokounmpo two-and-a-half games of a series that the Heat ultimately won in five.

Milwaukee, which went 4-5 without Giannis this season, won’t want to put its franchise player at risk of a more serious injury by rushing him back too soon, but will want to do everything in its power to avoid a repeat of that 2023 scenario in this year’s playoffs.

Antetokounmpo is expected to show up on most MVP ballots this spring after averaging 30.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, and a career-high 6.5 assists in 35.2 minutes per game across 73 games for the Bucks. His 61.1% mark on field goal attempts this season also represented a career high.

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