Giannis Antetokounmpo

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Lillard, Green, Olympics

The Bucks are listing Giannis Antetokounmpo as doubtful on the team’s official injury report due to a left calf strain, making it unlikely that he’ll be available for Sunday’s series opener with Indiana.

Antetokounmpo was held out of practice this week as he recovers from the injury he suffered in an April 9 game. He participated in a walkthrough on Friday, but didn’t do anything more physical, coach Doc Rivers told Jim Owczarski of The Journal-Sentinel.

Antetokounmpo was given a two- to four-week prognosis after the injury occurred, and Owczarski notes that Game 2 of the series will mark exactly 14 days. Game 3 will be 17 days away and Game 4 will be 19, while a potential Game 7 would take place May 4, giving Antetokounmpo three-and-a-half weeks to recover.

Milwaukee was 4-5 without Antetokounmpo this season, including a pair of losses last weekend that dropped the team into the No. 3 seed.

There’s more on the Bucks:

  • Damian Lillard had planned to practice Tuesday as he works his way back from an aggravated Achilles tendon and an irritated adductor muscle, Owczarski adds, but Lillard said the medical staff’s decision to hold him out helped him to be a full participant Friday. Lillard underwent imaging to check the extent of the damage to both areas before returning to the court. “After that it was just like we got a week to get right, to get ready and that was kind of the focus,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out there with my pride or doing anything unnecessary. That was kind of the plan.”
  • A.J. Green isn’t on the injured list after spraining his left ankle in an April 10 game. Rivers tells Owczarski that Green was able to do “most things” at Friday’s practice, but Malik Beasley and Khris Middleton will see extended minutes if Green isn’t able to play. “We have to keep shooting on the floor,” Rivers said. “But A.J. has not only been good offensively, I think he’s been very good defensively. I think he’s been one of our guard rebounders as well. I mean, obviously we would love him to play. He looked good today.”
  • Lillard said he was contacted by Team USA about another Olympics appearance, but he wasn’t willing to make a commitment, Owczarski states in the same piece. Lillard wanted to concentrate on what he hopes will be a long playoff run with the Bucks, and he was reluctant to be away from his family for most of the summer. “I never committed to it and I was also never like, ‘I don’t want to go,'” Lillard said. “So, the roster I think they got a full roster now, so I’m not offended by it at all.”
  • In a separate story, Lillard tells Owczarski that rumors that he’s dissatisfied in his first year with the Bucks are inaccurate. “I saw somebody say ‘Dame is not happy in Milwaukee’ or something like that,” Lillard said. “I know the truth. I love the situation that I’m in. I also know what I have going on outside of basketball going on that kind of drains me at times. People are going to make comments. People are going to say things. And if it doesn’t go the way they said it was going to go, nobody is ever (going to) come to them and say ‘All right, you said this. Now what do you have to say about it?’ They are never held accountable for what they say publicly.”

Injury Notes: Caruso, Bulls, Bucks, Embiid, Hartenstein

Bulls defensive ace Alex Caruso will be available for tonight’s play-in tournament game in Miami, head coach Billy Donovan said (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago).

Guard Ayo Dosunmu (quad) and center Andre Drummond (ankle) will be active too, Donovan added. All three players had previously been listed as questionable.

Caruso was said to have sustained a “significant” left ankle sprain in Wednesday’s play-in victory over Atlanta, but the swelling subsided over the past couple days and he told reporters on Friday morning he expected to suit up. The injury was an aggravation of a previous sprain.

Duncan Robinson, who has been battling a back issue, will be available tonight for the Heat, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Robinson was technically active for Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, Chiang notes, but he didn’t see any action — that might change with Jimmy Butler sidelined due to a knee sprain.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Bucks guard Damian Lillard was a full practice participant on Friday, but two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (left calf strain) was unable to do any live drills, according to a report from ESPN. Reserve guard A.J. Green, who sat out Tuesday’s practice with a left ankle sprain, was able to go through most of Friday’s practice. There have been mixed messages from Milwaukee on Antetokounmpo’s status, with president Peter Feigin saying he”definitely will not be back for Sunday,” when the Bucks will host the Pacers in Game 1 of their first-round series. Head coach Doc Rivers is still holding out hope that the perennial All-NBA First Team member will be ready though, per ESPN. “I don’t know yet,” Rivers said. “We’re still hoping. He hasn’t done anything. Would we throw him out there? Yeah, we would. For us, still we’re not sure.”
  • Speaking of Lillard, the Bucks‘ All-Star said he aggravated his Achilles tendon in Sunday’s loss to Orlando, but his adductor has been giving him the most trouble, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic relays (Twitter links). Lillard missed four games over the past few weeks with various injury designations, but he said the week off has helped him recover.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid is officially questionable for Saturday’s Game 1 in New York with what the team is calling left knee injury recovery, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. Embiid, who missed a few months after tearing his meniscus in January, has been considered questionable for nearly every game since he returned to action at the beginning of April.
  • Since January 20, Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein has only played 30-plus minutes five times due to Achilles soreness. However, two of those instances came in his last two regular season games, and he said he’s ready for an increased workload in the postseason, according to Katz (Twitter link).

Injury Notes: Giannis, Butler, Bulls, Pelicans/Kings

After Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that the Bucks are preparing to be without Giannis Antetokounmpo for the start of their first round series against Indiana, Shams Charania of The Athletic confirmed on Thursday on Stadium’s Playoff Preview show (Twitter video link) that the star forward’s status “is still in doubt” for the series.

“He has been rehabbing daily with that strained calf, getting treatment,” Charania said. “He has had even some stationary workouts on the court, but he is doubtful to start the series. I’m told this injury could be anywhere from two to four weeks, potentially. We know his superhuman ability, but that clearly puts his status for this series in jeopardy.

“The Bucks (and) Giannis have to have some level of caution in being careful with this calf injury. Already this season, Giannis has had Achilles tendinitis, a hamstring injury as well, and now this calf strain. The last thing (they) would want is for him to get back, rush on the floor with a calf injury, not being 100% and then potentially tweaking that or leading to even worse injuries.”

Crucially, Charania didn’t clarify whether or not the two-to-four-week timeline he cited applies retroactively — Antetokounmpo has been sidelined since April 9 as a result of the injury, so he has already been out for 10 days. Assuming the projected recovery timeline described by Charania began on the date of the injury, the two-time MVP still has a chance to play at some point in round one.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s agent Bernie Lee took exception with Thursday’s reports that his client would miss several weeks as a result of his knee injury, suggesting that they were premature, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald relays (via Twitter). “We’re going to see the doctor later today,” Lee said on Thursday afternoon, “and it just blows my mind that somebody that wasn’t in the arena has somehow come up with a medical timeline of something that literally four of us, one is the person that got hurt, and me, the person that has conversations with everything, that everything gets filtered through. We don’t even know and now we’re having to live in someone else’s created reality of you know something that I didn’t know.” The Heat subsequently confirmed that Butler had sustained an MCL sprain, though the team didn’t offer any sort of timeline beyond ruling him out for Friday’s play-in game. MCL sprains are typically multi-week injuries.
  • Bulls role players Alex Caruso (left ankle sprain), Ayo Dosunmu (right quad contusion), and Andre Drummond (left ankle sprain) have all been listed as questionable for Friday’s play-in game vs. Miami. Dosunmu and Drummond, who were also both listed as questionable for Tuesday’s contest, seem like relatively safe bets to play, while Caruso is expected to be a game-time decision.
  • There are no surprises on the Pelicans/Kings injury report for Friday, though the absences on each side are notable. Zion Williamson (left hamstring strain) is the only New Orleans player sidelined, while Sacramento is missing Malik Monk (right knee sprain) and Kevin Huerter (left shoulder surgery).

Bucks Notes: Lillard, Giannis, Green, Portis, Edens

Bucks point guard Damian Lillard didn’t participate in the team’s practice on Tuesday, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Lillard said after Sunday’s game that his sore left adductor muscle was bothering him at times, citing “little irritation-type moments” (link via Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

As Nehm relays (via Twitter), head coach Doc Rivers told reporters on Tuesday that Lillard has undergone imaging, which came back clean, so today’s absence from practice was mostly just about giving him “a little more rest.”

“I think it’s that,” Rivers said when asked if the adductor was still bothering Lillard. “His Achilles. His groin. We want him to be as close to 100 percent as possible, if you can be that at this point.”

Teammate Bobby Portis downplayed Lillard’s lack of involvement in Tuesday’s practice session, noting that Game 1 of the Bucks’ series against Indiana is still several days away.

“I mean, to start off, man, it wasn’t a shock or anything that Dame sat out,” Portis said, per Nehm (Twitter link). “It’s, what, Tuesday? The game’s on Sunday. I don’t want nobody to put too much stress on that. I think we kind of blow things out of proportion too much.”

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf strain) and A.J. Green (ankle sprain) also missed Tuesday’s practice, tweets Nehm. A report earlier today indicated that Milwaukee is preparing to be without Antetokounmpo for the start of round one.
  • Portis discussed several topics in an interview with Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link), including his Sixth Man of the Year candidacy and a February trade rumor involving him and then-Mavericks forward Grant Williams. “When I got hints of (that rumor), I’m like, no way I’m getting traded for – excuse my French, that’s my guy, I love competing against him – but I shouldn’t get traded for Grant Williams,” Portis said. “That don’t even sound right. … I don’t know how that moves the needle. The things I do and the things he can help the team do are just different.”
  • Wes Edens spoke to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about his first 10 years as the Bucks’ co-owner and his expectations for the next decade, stressing that he has no plans to sell his stake in the team anytime soon, like his fellow co-owner Marc Lasry did last year.
  • Owczarski’s feature also includes quotes from various members of the Bucks organization discussing the impact that the current ownership group has had on the franchise in the last decade. “He brought a winning culture,” Khris Middleton said of Edens. “He’s a great businessman and him and his partners wanted to bring that business culture of winning to our sports team. He did a lot. He had his hands on a lot of things, on the day-to-day operations as far as making sure things were running smoothly and put people in place that he had confidence in that can take us to the next level as a world-class, first-class organization.”

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.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, DeRozan, Dosunmu, Drummond, Rivers, Giannis

The boos that the Cavaliers heard as they left the court after Sunday’s loss to Charlotte weren’t directed at the players, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. There was an organizational decision to rest several rotation members rather than prioritize a win that would have earned the team the No. 2 seed and avoided a potential second-round matchup with the league-leading Celtics. The result was embarrassing, as Cleveland was outscored 18-2 to end the game and will face Orlando in the first round after falling to fourth place.

Vardon notes that the loss of Craig Porter Jr. to a sprained ankle in the first quarter left the Cavs short on ball-handlers. With Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Caris LeVert all sitting out, there was no one to run the offense as the lead slipped away.

“It was difficult (to watch), but we had our plan in place with what we were gonna do with our guys,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “(Our starters) were gonna play those three quarters, and then Craig not being out there made it a little difficult to organize and score in the fourth quarter, but we wanted to stick to our plan, and no matter what was going to happen, we were going to give our guys an opportunity to play.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Thirty-four-year-old DeMar DeRozan finished the season as the NBA’s leader in minutes, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The Bulls swingman was on the court for 2,988 minutes, his highest total in a decade, as he became the first player over age 30 to league the league in that category since LeBron James did it six years ago. “And he doesn’t miss practice. He doesn’t miss shootaround,” Coby White said of DeRozan. “He’s early to everything. Those are the things I notice. He’s always on time. He’s always one of the first ones there. You know how some guys can be. And for him, it’s just his professionalism day in and day out never changes.”
  • The Bulls have some injury concerns heading into Wednesday’s play-in game, notes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Ayo Dosunmu has a bruised quad and Andre Drummond is dealing with a sprained left ankle, and neither is certain to play against Atlanta. ‘‘Ayo is having issues with the running and the starting and the sprinting and the stopping,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘There’s been some discomfort there for him. He has to get over that hurdle. I think there is hope he can clear those hurdles.’’
  • Bucks coach Doc Rivers is looking forward to a playoff matchup against Indiana, which was 4-1 against Milwaukee this season, according to Jamal Collier of ESPN. They haven’t faced each other since January 3, which was before Rivers took over the team. “Indiana has had our number all year, so perfect opponent,” Rivers said. “They’ve played great against us. They have great confidence against us. We’ll have great focus because we’re going to have to.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo may not be available for the start of that series, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Bucks star hasn’t played since Tuesday when he suffered a soleus strain in his left calf, and Rivers confirmed over the weekend that there are doubts about his status for the opener.

Injury Notes: Ingram, Giannis, Green, Robinson, Melton

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, who has been sidelined since March 21 due to a left knee bone contusion, is expected to return to action on Sunday vs. the Lakers, TNT’s Chris Haynes said on Thursday night’s broadcast (Twitter video link via Pelicans Film Room).

Ingram’s impending return will give him an opportunity to get acclimated back into the Pelicans’ lineup ahead of the postseason. He’ll also get the chance to try to help New Orleans clinch a playoff berth — the team currently has a one-game lead on Phoenix for the No. 6 seed in the West. Since the Suns hold the tiebreaker, the Pelicans will need to win its remaining two games or have Phoenix lose at least once to hang onto the sixth spot.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Bucks head coach Doc Rivers said this week that he isn’t sure whether or not star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will be ready for the start of the playoffs (Twitter link via Jamal Collier of ESPN). Antetokounmpo was in a walking boot on the sidelines during Wednesday’s game (Twitter link via Harris Stavrou of SPORT24). Milwaukee had another player bitten by the injury bug during that contest, as swingman A.J. Green went down with a left ankle sprain (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). Green has been ruled out for Friday’s matchup with Oklahoma City.
  • After missing five games due to a back issue in late March, Heat forward Duncan Robinson returned to action on March 31 and appeared in four more contests after that, but still wasn’t quite right, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Robinson will miss a third consecutive contest on Friday vs. Toronto as a result of that nagging back problem, and his availability for the start of the postseason is up in the air.
  • Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton returned on Tuesday from a lumbar spine injury, playing for just the fourth time since January 12. He admitted that the recovery process was a long, challenging one, as Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. “Throughout the whole process, it was a lot of ups and downs,” Melton said. “Some days [were] better than others. Definitely there was a little doubt that crept into my mind. But I just kind of tried to stay with it and, every day, just take it moment by moment. And now we’re here.” Head coach Nick Nurse said Melton felt good after playing nearly 16 minutes on Tuesday, adding that the team will look to increase his minutes a little on Friday (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports).

Giannis Antetokounmpo To Miss Rest Of Regular Season With Left Soleus Strain

APRIL 10, 4:50pm: According to the Bucks (Twitter link), an MRI confirmed that Antetkounmpo sustained a left soleus strain on Tuesday. He will miss the final three games of the regular season and will receive “daily treatment and evaluation,” per the team, with no return timeline provided.

APRIL 10, 6:42am: Antetokounmpo hasn’t sustained any damage to his left Achilles tendon, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

While that’s good news for the Bucks and their star forward, Charania notes (via Twitter) that calf strains typically necessitate a recovery timeline of at least a week or two. Antetokounmpo’s return to play will be based on how his calf responds to treatment and rehab, Charania adds.

APRIL 9: Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will undergo an MRI on his strained left calf, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Antetokounmpo injured himself merely jogging up the court during the third quarter against the Celtics on Tuesday. He crumbled to the ground in the backcourt and grabbed his left leg. He was carried back to the locker room by teammates, ESPN’s Jamal Collier writes.

The injury has been described as a left soleus strain. The soleus is a muscle in the back part of the calf.

Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said after the game that his franchise player would also have his Achilles tendon evaluated, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. “So, we’re just gonna hope for the best,” Rivers said.

It’s an ominous development with the postseason fast approaching. Antetokounmpo missed two games during the first round of the playoffs last season due to a back injury. Miami upset top-seeded Milwaukee, 4-1.

Antetokounmpo was listed on the injury report prior to Tuesday’s game with left hamstring tendinopathy before being upgraded to probable. Milwaukee defeated Boston to strengthen its hold on the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks had lost their previous four games.

Central Notes: Bucks, Middleton, Cavaliers, Donovan, Pistons

Bucks coach Doc Rivers responded to the team’s late-season swoon by holding a film session on Saturday, according to Eric Nehm and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The meeting involved the team’s nine veteran rotation players — Giannis AntetokounmpoDamian LillardKhris MiddletonBrook Lopez, Malik Beasley, Bobby PortisPatrick Beverley, Pat Connaughton and Jae Crowder — and each of them was given the opportunity to share his perspective on the team’s recent slide and offer suggestions on how to address it.

“It’s only the start of these tough and necessary conversations,” a source told Nehm and Charania.

While the session may have cleared the air, it didn’t help Milwaukee end its slump as the Bucks fell to New York on Sunday while getting outscored 72-48 in the second half. Although they remain in second place in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are now just one game ahead of the Magic and Knicks and a game-and-half up on the Cavaliers, as home court advantage in the first round is no longer a guarantee.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Middleton’s bad luck with injuries continued Sunday as he had to leave the game after being accidentally struck in the face by Donte DiVincenzo, Nehm and Charania add. Rivers said Middleton had to make an emergency trip to the dentist, which is why he didn’t return to the game. “You just feel bad for him. The guy can’t catch a break,” the Bucks‘ head coach said. “I mean, what are the odds you go into a game, ‘OK, tonight, it will be my tooth gets knocked out.’ He’s having one of those seasons right now, but that’s OK because it can all turn for him. I thought he came with great spirit tonight, too, so just tough luck.”
  • The Cavaliers had a disastrous end to their five-game Western swing as they let a 26-point lead slip away in Sunday’s loss to the Clippers, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland went 1-4 on the trip and returns home in fifth place in the East. “Just a very disappointing loss,” said Isaac Okoro, who was able to return after missing four games with pain in his big toe. “Think we all know right now we need wins. Wanted this one bad.”
  • Head coach Billy Donovan admits that the Bulls aren’t having the type of season he expected, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago is just a game ahead of Atlanta for ninth place in the battle to host next week’s play-in game between the two teams. “I certainly didn’t come here [when I was hired in 2020] to say, ‘Hey, listen, let’s be a play-in team,’” Donovan said. “When I sat down first with [executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] and [general manager] Marc [Eversley] about this, it was to try and build something. I still feel like we’re building something, but I don’t think anyone is happy with where we’re at.’’
  • James L. Edwards of The Athletic ranks the Pistons‘ best assets heading into the offseason. Not surprisingly, Cade Cunningham tops the list, with this year’s first-round pick coming in second, followed by Ausar Thompson, Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey.

Central Notes: Lillard, Giannis, Craig, Cade, Flynn, Mitchell

Damian Lillard will be back in action for the Bucks on Friday vs. Toronto after missing the last three games due to personal reasons and an adductor strain, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT. Lillard will be looking to help Milwaukee get back on track after a pair of ugly losses this week to lottery-bound teams (the Wizards and Grizzlies).

As Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes, during Wednesday’s loss to the Grizzlies, Giannis Antetokounmpo was dealing with what the Bucks are calling left hamstring tendinopathy and didn’t look like his usual explosive self en route to 21 points on 10-of-23 shooting. He’s listed as doubtful to play in Friday’s game.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • One reason why the Bulls signed Javonte Green for the rest of the season is a belief that Torrey Craig‘s knee still isn’t 100%, even though the veteran wing hasn’t missed a game in nearly a month. “I’m not a doctor, but I do know he has stiffness,” head coach Billy Donovan said of Craig, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “To me, he’s just not himself. That doesn’t mean he isn’t cleared to play. He is, and he wants to play, as well. Going back to the plantar fasciitis [from earlier in the season] and then the knee injury over All-Star break, he’s not moving the way he was before those things. He’s just not.”
  • Pistons guard Cade Cunningham hasn’t gotten any real buzz for this season’s Most Improved Player award, but does he have a case for consideration? James L. Edwards III of The Athletic explores that topic, laying out the argument for Cunningham as MIP.
  • Although it came in a loss, Malachi Flynn‘s 50-point outburst on Wednesday was a feel-good moment for a Pistons team that hasn’t had many of them and for a player who has had a tough season, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required). A former first-round pick, Flynn has played for three teams in his contract year and has struggled to carve out consistent minutes for any of those clubs. “We’re all super happy for him because we all know what he’s had to go through,” Evan Fournier said. “I don’t want to say we wouldn’t give a (expletive) if it was Cade, but it wouldn’t be the same. The fact that it’s Malachi adds more to the story, I think.”
  • Following a loss to Phoenix on Wednesday, Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell spoke about the issues he’s having getting past a nagging knee ailment and his desire to have it get “1% better every day” in order to be ready to go for the playoffs. Chris Fedor of has the story and the quotes from Mitchell.