Giannis Antetokounmpo status unclear as Bucks aim to level series with Heat


Giannis Antetokounmpo status unclear as Bucks aim to level series with Heat

Antetokounmpo has missed the last two games
Antetokounmpo has missed the last two gamesAFP
Coach Mike Budenholzer says the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks can only wait and see if injured superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (28) will be ready for Monday's game four of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series against the Miami Heat.

Antetokounmpo, who suffered a lower back contusion in game one and missed games two and three, worked out with Bucks coaches prior to the team's video session, Budenholzer said Sunday.

"We'll continue to monitor him," Budenholzer said. "He did some individual work today on the court and we'll see how he feels from the session today and see how he wakes up tomorrow."

The Bucks had shrugged off Antetokounmpo's absence to win game two in Milwaukee and level the series at 1-1.

But they fell to the Heat in game three after the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player was ruled out shortly before tip-off.

"He always wants to make himself available," Budenholzer said. "He does everything to make himself available.

"He wants to play. But I think there's also a maturity for Giannis and an understanding and a growth that we just respect, and I think he respects us," added the coach, who said a decision would come down to the player in consultation with medical staff and other team personnel.

The uncertainty means Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is readying Miami "for both teams" - the Bucks with and without Antetokounmpo.

"We respect the Bucks deeply," Spoelstra said. "We know what they're capable of. And that's with or without GA.

"You have to respect championship DNA. They have it. They have guys that have been through the battles, been through wars. It's not like they're going to get sick at sea because they're down 2-1."

The Heat have their own injury concerns, but Spoelstra said forward Jimmy Butler - who scored 30 points in the Heat's game-two victory before departing late in the third quarter with a bruised backside after a hard fall - appeared to be OK.

"Jimmy looked like Jimmy," Spoelstra said, "and he's doing a lot of treatment."

Miami's Caleb Martin was nursing a sore shoulder but said he expected to be good to go on Monday. Center Bam Adebayo was listed as probable with a left hamstring strain.

"All of our guys emptied the tank (Saturday), put a lot into that - physically, emotionally, mentally,” Spoelstra said. “We want to recharge and have that kind effort again tomorrow night.”

Injuries have loomed large for the Heat already in the series. Tyler Herro broke his right hand in the opening game and required surgery.

Victor Oladipo suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee on Saturday and will miss the rest of the playoffs.

It was a heartbreaking development for Oladipo, who will need his third major surgery in just over four years after two operations to repair a right quadriceps injury.


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