LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out of Game 5 of Milwaukee’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat because of a sprained right ankle.
The Bucks listed Antetokounmpo as inactive, doing so about 45 minutes before Tuesday’s matchup started. They entered the game trailing the best-of-seven series 3-1.
Antetokounmpo clearly tried to get himself ready for Game 5. He was on the court about two hours before game time, getting some shots up, then did more strength and flexibility work with a member of the Bucks’ staff. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer watched the on-court session closely, before the team made the final decision.
“It’s just always good to see it with your eyes,” Budenholzer said.
Antetokounmpo sprained the ankle in the first quarter of Game 3, then played his usual minutes the rest of the way. He turned the same ankle the same way — inward — early in the second quarter of Game 4 and could not return.
The Bucks lost Game 3 with Antetokounmpo, then found a way to win Game 4 in overtime even after playing the final 40 of the game’s 53 minutes without their leading scorer and rebounder.
Antetokounmpo had started all 43 of Milwaukee’s postseason games since he joined the franchise as the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA draft. The last time the Bucks played a playoff contest without Antetokounmpo was April 28, 2013 — when they were swept out of the first round by the Heat.
Antetokounmpo got plenty of treatment between games, but Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer indicated Monday — while acknowledging that there was still hope that the MVP would play in Game 5 — that the team would weigh the short-term benefit of him playing Tuesday against the long-term risk.