Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo wrestled against a knee problem that prevented him from participating recently in ... games. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian / Images) Images
The The Milwaukee Bucks Championship hopes to rest squarely on the shoulders of reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. This may seem like an oversimplification of an ext route.dreamily complex and difficult heading into the NBA Finals, but when it comes to Milwaukee, that's it.
Although Antetokounmpo has been by far the best player in the regular season over the past two years, he has not carried that same success in the playoffs. The opposing teams focused on him, loaded the paint, and forced anyone else in a good cream green and cream city jersey to beat them. It's so far gone that the term "build a wall" is better known in Bucks social media circles as a defensive strategy to stop the Greek Freak than a pledge from the previous presidential administration. His playoff play is one of the main reasons the Bucks retired early in back-to-back playoff outings.
Now Antetokounmpo has another potential hurdle he needs to get over: a lingering knee problem.
It 's notIt's new to the franchise's face. This issue last lifted its ugly head in March 2020 when it twisted his knee in a showdown against the Los Angeles Lak. ers. However, the seriousness may have been masked after the end of the season two games later (which he both missed) and only resumed at the end of July.
Antetokounmpo is listed as questionable in Thursday night's game with the Dallas Mavericks, and if he's absent it will be the fifth time in the last 10 games he's been absent due to this knee problem.
He first missed the game against the Indiana Pacers on March 22 before playing a back-to-back set against the Boston Celtics (with a day off in between). He then stepped out of a contest against the New York Knicks which turned out to bethe second from a back to back. For a brief period, the case seemed to be behind him, as he played three straight games from March 29 to April 2 (each with a day in between). However, that was when the drama really intensified.
During the April 2 event against the Portland Trail Blazers, Antetokounmpo had obvious discomfort during the pre-game warm-ups. He has been seen not once, but twice seriously wincing and stepping on the sidelines. For better or worse, he fought despite the apparent pain, played in the game, and finished with a whopping 47 points on an 18v21 shot (18v18 inside the game). 'arc) and 12 rebounds.
This is where it starts to get risky. Antetokounmpo missed the next game against the Sacramento Kings and was then listed as probable for their next fight against the Golden State Warriors. However, he missed the match due toe from that same knee pain and is now questionable against the Mavericks. With Milwaukee playing another game on Friday night, there will be a quick turnaround to see how the Bucks continue to have this problem.
Overall, the Bucks are 3-2 without Antetokounmpo, including holding desperately against the Kings and a late meltdown against the Warriors. It's not the worst, but it certainly wasn't the Brooklyn Nets who went 19-4 without superstar Kevin Durant.
Speaking of the Nets, Milwaukee currently sits third in the Eastern Conference - 2.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers and three behind Brooklyn. They have back-to-back playoffs against each of these teams in late April and then early May and need to stay within striking range until then. Milwaukee would be better served to at least gain the advantage on the field in a second round game. Anything else and they could prepare for a spremature nettle for the third consecutive series.
Going back, Antetokounmpo's health is even more important than rank. Milwaukee has absolutely no chance of hitting their championship goal unless it's 100%. This means that they have to be extremely careful with him going forward and making sure he is in full health before returning to the basketball court. While they don't say much publicly, you can bet your last dollar that they do their homework and get as much information as possible about Antetokounmpo's knee.
The second half of this season shortened by the covides is a grind. Even by previous NBA standards. Including Thursday night's game against the Mavs, they have played 22 games in the final 41 days of the season. This includes seven (!) Others back to back.
At the moment, there is no reason to believe that thisThe injury is something serious that will put him aside for weeks. It is still listed as day to day and there is no information to suggest it is serious. However, missing games with vague illness such as knee injury is a scary proposition. Especially when it comes to a player who holds the future of the Bucks in his hands as definitely as Antetokounmpo.
Persistent knee injuries like this are never a positive development, especially for tall 7ft men who rely on their athleticism so heavily. Milwaukee needs to get this problem under control - at the start of April - instead of letting it linger for the next 5 weeks and the playoffs. They can't worry about handling the load after May 16 (their last game of the regular season) and expect to overthrow the 76ers and / or the Nets.
For the Bucks to qualifyient for the NBA Finals, they need the best version of Antetokounmpo possible. Plus, they need him to be the best player on the pitch in every series. None of these problems are possible if this problem persists. It's time to master it.