The Milwaukee Bucks lost a lot more than just a basketball game on Tuesday night. During the third quarter of the Bucks’ 110-88 blowout loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Giannis Antetokounmpo hit the deck with an apparent leg injury that forced him to miss the remainder of the game.
The Bucks originally diagnosed the injury as a hyperextended left knee, although there were fears that things were much, much worse. But if the reports coming in are true, they can breathe a little sigh of relief as there appears to be no structural damage.
Giannis Antetokounmpo left Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with what the Bucks called a hyperextended left knee
Antetokounmpo didn’t get off to the greatest start in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Hawks, scoring just six points in the first half while also airballing a pair of free throws, much to the delight of the home crowd in Atlanta. But he bounced back nicely as the second half got underway, scoring eight points in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, including a 12-foot jumper that cut the Atlanta lead to 60-52.
On the Bucks’ ensuing defensive possession, however, Giannis saw his night come to a close as he attempted to contest a Clint Capela dunk off a lob from Lou Williams, as did Brook Lopez. Antetokounmpo and Capela both fell to the ground, but it was quite obvious who took the worst of the fall as Giannis screamed and immediately grabbed his left knee as the crowd fell silent.
Essentially the entire Bucks bench came to his aid, and as soon as he could somewhat stand, Antetokounmpo was taken to the locker room and diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee. He did return to the bench for a short time but returned to the back once the Hawks blew the game open.
There is reportedly no structural damage to Antetokounmpo’s left knee but no timetable has been set for his return
Early Wednesday, reports began to circulate that the Bucks feared their superstar had suffered a severe ACL injury. After Giannis was scheduled for an MRI and the NBA world anxiously awaited the results, we may finally have an answer.
As you can see in the above tweet, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, pretty much the go-to guy for this sort of thing, reported that there is no structural damage to Giannis’ left knee, saying all “ligaments are sound.”
While that’s certainly good news, Woj also said that no timetable has been set for Antetokounmpo to return to the Eastern Conference Finals. And that’s if he even comes back at all.
Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday will obviously need to step up whether Giannis returns or not
The Bucks played 11 games without Antetokounmpo in the regular season, putting up a record of 6-5. Naturally, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday saw more touches and took more shots in those particular games, and they’re obviously the two who will need to step up whether Giannis returns or not. If he does return, he won’t be at 100%. And if he doesn’t, it’s on Middleton and Holiday to become the leaders for the Bucks.
Now, while each has had one great game in this series, Holiday with a 33-point performance in Game 1 and Middleton with a 38-point performance in Game 3, neither has shot the ball as well as they did in the regular season. Middleton is shooting 41.8% from the floor against the Hawks, down from 47.6% in the regular season, and just 22.9% from the 3-point line, down from 41.4%.
As for Holiday, his numbers aren’t nearly as concerning as he shot 50.3% from the floor and 39.2% from the 3-point line in the regular season, compared to 46.3% from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc. But they’re down nonetheless, and the 61.5% clip from the foul line, down from 78.7%, could be something to keep an eye on.
While losing Antetokounmpo obviously isn’t ideal for the Bucks, they’ve at least seen that it’s possible to win in this series without having your biggest star and No. 1 offensive option. The Hawks just took Game 4 without the services of Trae Young, who’s a game-time decision for Game 5, as Lou Williams and others picked up the slack.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference