With one awkward landing, the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA have the longest “wait and see” that they’ve had in quite some time.
The Bucks seemed to have figured out the Atlanta Hawks entering game four of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo finally realized that he can’t be stopped down low, and Atlanta’s Trae Young was held out of game four due to an ankle injury suffered in game three.
Atlanta came out the gate not yet ready to throw in the towel, building a 13-point lead at halftime, eventually taking game four 110-88. For the Bucks, the effort was disappointing but not the end of the world.
A major injury to Antetokounmpo would be.
With a little over seven minutes left in the third quarter, Antetokounmpo landed awkwardly on his left leg as he contested an alley-oop, causing his knee to buckle grotesquely.
Giannis appears to have injured his leg.
Prayers up 🙏 pic.twitter.com/cHZXCIsBEd
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 30, 2021
Antetokounmpo screamed in pain and stayed on the floor for several minutes as players from both teams surrounded him. Eventually, he was helped to his feet before walking off the court with a noticeable limp and the Hawks went on to even the series at two games apiece.
“It just looked like their legs got tangled up,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They both landed awkwardly. That’s what I saw live. I haven’t seen anything else.”
Everything seemed to be falling into place for the Bucks. After two seasons of playoff disappointment, the Bucks finally seemed poised to break through for their first trip to the NBA Finals since the 1973-1974 season. They were able to catch the Brooklyn Nets at the right time — James Harden and Kyrie Irving were unable to stay healthy enough to help Kevin Durant — and the Philadelphia 76ers completely collapsed in the second round.
But all of the sudden, all that good fortune is hanging by a thread.
The Bucks will await the results of an MRI on Wednesday to better understand the severity of Antetokounmpo’s injury. Right now, they’re calling it a hyperextended left knee.
The Association nervously waits as well.
The NBA playoffs have been decimated by injuries. Many — like LeBron James – have pointed to the shortened offseason and condensed schedule as to why we have seen an increase in the injuries to stars, but more than a few have been due to freak accidents.
Irving stepped on Antetokounmpo’s foot in the second round, Young stepped on a referee’s foot in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals, and Antetokounmpo simply landed poorly on Tuesday night.
Regardless, the playoffs haven’t been the same without the stars on the floor.
According to Tommy Beer of Forbes, “If Giannis is unable to play in Game 5, only one (Paul George) of the 15 players named to the First, Second and Third Team All-NBA this season would still be alive in the playoffs and have appeared in each of his team’s games this postseason.”
If Giannis is unable to play in Game 5, only one (Paul George) of the 15 players named to the First, Second and Third Team All-NBA this season would still be alive in the playoffs and have appeared in each of his team’s games this postseason.
Just a brutally taxing season.
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) June 30, 2021
As the NBA Finals approach, the obvious hope is that Antetokounmpo’s injury isn’t major and that the two-time MVP is able to make it back in time to help the Bucks in their series against Atlanta. But looking at the replay of the injury, it doesn’t look good.
“I don’t want to speak for him,” Budenholzer said. “I know just historically it’s impossible to keep him off the court. It’s impossible to keep him away from his teammates, keep him away from his team. So my guess is he probably wants to play and trying to play, and if not, let his teammates know that he’s there for them.”
The NBA can’t afford another devastating injury to a star, but it certainly seems more than likely that they’ll have another one to work around one soon.
Joe Morgan is the sports reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].
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