Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo will remain out with calf injury, miss Game 3 vs. Pacers

Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo will remain out with calf injury, miss Game 3 vs. Pacers

By Oghale Apr26,2024

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is out for Friday’s Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers as he continues to rehab a left soleus strain, the team announced.

Antetokounmpo has already missed the first two games of the Bucks’ first-round series against the Pacers because of the left calf injury he suffered against the Boston Celtics on April 9.

Similarly to Game 2, Antetokounmpo was initially listed as doubtful before being ruled out the day of the game, but before he went through a pregame warmup to test out the injury.

“He did a lot of floor stuff today, probably the most I’ve seen,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said following practice Thursday afternoon. “He was shooting and moving today.”

While that is the most physical activity Rivers has detailed Antetokounmpo doing in the rehab process from this injury, the Bucks coach also told reporters that Antetokounmpo has been unable to do any live action on the floor yet.

The Bucks split the first two games of the series before heading to Indianapolis on Thursday for Friday’s Game 3.

While Antetokounmpo’s status has been cleared up for Game 3, three-time All-Star Khris Middleton is still listed as questionable after he suffered a right ankle sprain in the first quarter of Game 2. Middleton returned to the game and put up 15 points, five rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes on Tuesday, but sat out of practice Thursday.

How have the Bucks done without Antetokounmpo?

Behind a ridiculous first-half performance by Damian Lillard, the Bucks took Game 1 against the Pacers in Milwaukee. Lillard scored 35 points in the first two quarters and the moment seemed too big for a young Pacers team going through its first playoff series with Tyrese Haliburton running the show. With Lillard knocking down 3-pointers from deep and the Pacers struggling to find any offensive rhythm, the Bucks took a 27-point lead into the half and coasted the rest of the way.

Game 2 was much different. Lillard was once again spectacular in the first half, but the Pacers looked much like the team they were in the regular season. After shaking off their Game 1 performance, the Pacers got back to pushing the tempo against the Bucks on makes and misses and put together a 23-4 run in the fourth quarter to close out the Bucks and split the series heading home to Indianapolis for Game 3.

Who needs to step up for the Bucks?

Lillard has played well for the Bucks thus far in this series without Antetokounmpo on the floor. He has been dominant in the first half of games, but slowed down in the second half as he has been forced to deal with the brunt of the Pacers’ defensive attention for all four quarters. Middleton played well in Game 1 with 23 points (9-of-14 from the field), 10 rebounds and four assists, but struggled in Game 2, hitting just 6-of-14 from the field for 15 points, as he dealt with the lingering effects of his right ankle sprain in the first quarter.

For the Bucks to pull out a victory in Game 3, they could use two things: a much better defensive performance as a team and a big game from Bobby Portis.

The Bucks were not disciplined on the defensive end in Game 3 as they let the Pacers get out on the run far too often. When Antetokounmpo missed time throughout the regular season, Portis regularly stepped up with big offensive performances. After making 50.8 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from 3 on his way to 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in a Sixth Man of the Year-nominated regular-season effort, Portis has averaged 14.5 points and 11 rebounds in the first two games of the series, but only shot 41.9 percent from the field, including 0-for-4 from 3.

Required reading

(Photo: Gary Dineen / NBAE via Getty Images)

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