Giannis Antetokounmpo played just 11 minutes for the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their series against the Miami Heat. He exited the game early with six points and three rebounds.
Shams Charania had this to report:
“Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo is out for remainder of Game 1 vs. Heat due to lower back contusion.”
The injury happened after the two-time MVP drove to the basket when Miami Heat forward Kevin Love stood his ground to take a charging foul. Antetokounmpo spiraled out of control upon contract and landed with a big thud on his back.
"The Greek Freak" writhed in pain while holding on to his back. Love was called for a blocking foul but Antetokounmpo took the brunt of the collision and then the fall.
Miami was leading 24-12 with 4:13 left in the first quarter when the incident happened. Giannis Antetokounmpo got up and shot his free throws before he was taken out. He returned later in the second quarter before being shut down for good.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer had this to say on their decision to take Antetokounmpo out of the game:
"He just wasn’t moving [well]. Didn’t look comfortable, confident. It felt like the right thing."
The two-time MVP reportedly already had X-rays, which proved negative. Despite the good news, it remains to be seen when he'll be able to return for the Bucks.
"He has a back contusion. There was [an] X-ray that was clear here, so we’ll monitor him, see how he does, see how he wakes up, how he feels the rest of tonight and tomorrow."
"We have to wait and see what the doctors say, and more importantly what Giannis [Antetokounmpo] says. Certainly we’ve been blessed with him being incredibly resilient and quick to heal, but you just gotta take it day by day. We have to see how he’s doing, how he feels.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been known to quickly bounce back from injuries. He did just that this year when he suffered a wrist injury against the Chicago Bulls. It looked like he would be sidelined for a long time, but was quickly back with the team after just a few games of recovery.
The Milwaukee Bucks will be in big trouble without Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo is an NBA MVP candidate for a reason. Without him, the Milwaukee Bucks will not have their best player on arguably both ends of the floor.
The Bucks still have Brook Lopez, one of the best interior defenders in the league. Still, Antetokounmpo's absence was felt in the way Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo repeatedly gashed the defense with inside moves.
"Jimmy Buckets" only attempted one three-pointer, which he missed. The majority of his shots were taken inside 15 feet from the rim. Without "The Greek Freak" helping to clog the lane, Butler did his damage close to the basket.
Ditto for Adebayo, who didn't bother to hoist up a three-point attempt. He was 10-18 from the field, mostly from shots around the rim.
It remains to be seen how the Milwaukee Bucks will adjust as they await Giannis Antetokounmpo's return.