Then, an avalanche of boulders tumbled into that path when Bucks All-NBA ahead Giannis Antetokounmpo crumpled in a heap of limbs, screaming in ache and grabbing his hyperextended left knee.
The path of a playoff sequence can change within the time it takes for Antetokounmpo to leap and defend a Clint Capela alley-oop dunk, get tangled on the way in which down and land awkwardly.
Atlanta, which managed the sport from begin to end, defeated Milwaukee 110-88 on Tuesday, night the Jap Convention finals at 2-2.
Antetokounmpo missed the ultimate 19 minutes, however the Bucks have been in bother with him on the courtroom earlier than the damage. The Hawks led 51-38 at halftime and have been up 62-52 when Antetokounmpo sustained his damage.
It was only a four-possession recreation, however the Bucks had not displayed any indication they have been able to a comeback. That they had a nasty begin to the sport, have been restricted by Atlanta’s protection and had bother slowing the Hawks’ it-takes-a-village strategy with out Younger.
“To return out and be flat like that and never give the vitality, effort, to have the ability to win this recreation … it was a really winnable recreation even once we acquired down early,” Bucks ahead P.J. Tucker stated. “For us to not flip it on and be capable of recover from that hump and be capable of give ourselves an opportunity to win this recreation is disappointing. It might’t occur.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer will handle that in movie periods in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
The extra urgent matter is Antetokounmpo’s availability for the rest of the sequence and past the convention finals.
“Clearly Giannis is an enormous a part of our soul and our fiber,” Budenholzer stated.
Antetokounmpo, who sprained the identical knee earlier this season and missed two video games in late March, could have the knee scanned to find out the extent of the damage.
“We’ll see how he’s tomorrow,” Budenholzer stated.
It will likely be the longest wait-and-see the Bucks have encountered this season. Whether or not you root for the Bucks, the Hawks or haven’t any rooting curiosity aside from seeing good basketball, this can be a rotten damage to a participant who labored extremely exhausting from his days as a child in Athens, Greece to his back-to-back MVP seasons to an All-NBA participant attempting to achieve his first NBA Finals.
Antetokounmpo had change into an excessive amount of of a pressure for Atlanta, particularly in Milwaukee’s Sport 2 and three victories. Within the first three video games of the sequence, he curtailed his 3-point makes an attempt and drove to the rim with ferocity, averaging 30.7 factors, 10.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and two steals and capturing 59.4% from the sector.
The hope is that it isn’t a devastating season-ending damage.
This had been a brutal yr for accidents, the playoffs included, with stars such Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Denver’s Jamal Murray, Utah’s Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving and James Harden, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker, Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard and Atlanta’s Younger lacking video games.
After Antetokounmpo left the sport, he headed to the locker room, got here again to the bench after which headed again to the locker room.
“I do not need to converse for him,” Budenholzer stated. “I do know simply traditionally it is unimaginable to maintain him off the courtroom. It is unimaginable to maintain him away from his teammates, maintain him away from his group. So my guess is he in all probability desires to play and attempting to play, and if not, let his teammates know that he is there for them.”
As soon as play resumed, the Hawks prolonged the result in 74-54.
“I am certain there’s the human component the place the priority, care, for him is actual,” Budenholzer stated. “However they’re within the warmth of the battle. They’re taking part in. They’re competing. They’re attempting to get stops, attempting to get rebounds, attempting to do issues, looking for a option to be there for him whereas he isn’t capable of be on the courtroom, and I am certain that is what they are going to do.”
Nonetheless, the Bucks appeared dazed.
“It is not good shedding anyone in your group,” Tucker stated. “Shedding a participant stinks. However we did not come out with vitality tonight. We simply thought we was going to stroll in and win the sport. We did not do something to point out that we needed to win this recreation tonight. We have been flat, and our man’s damage was simply one other piece of the puzzle to us shedding.”
If the Bucks are with out Antetokounmpo for any video games, they coincidentally should draw inspiration from the Hawks, who beat the Bucks with out Younger.
“We’ll simply take the whole lot because it comes,” Budenholzer stated. “We’ll consider it, and we have got a heck of a group, a heck of a roster. The fellows can be able to compete and play. That is what it is about.
“So we have got a Sport 5. We’ll watch the movie. We’ll put together. We’ll prepare. The fellows love competing. They love taking part in. That is what it is all about.”
Tucker was blunt.
“As gamers, you simply have a look at one another and whoever we acquired on the market, that is who we’re going with and we’ll exit and combat,” Tucker stated. “Wish to me, all that different stuff goes out the window and it comes all the way down to having the ability to exit and provides the trouble each play, lay it on the road, and go on the market and take it, as a result of tonight, that is what Atlanta did. They took it.”
Can the Bucks do the identical?
Comply with Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s knee damage leaves Bucks in limbo