Giannis Antetokounmpo (back) listed as doubtful for Game 2 against Miami but Bucks remain ‘optimistic’
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies aren’t saying whether their star players will be available Wednesday night as both teams try to avoid falling into 0-2 holes before hitting the road in their respective first-round series.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Memphis’ Ja Morant both exited their series openers Sunday after getting hurt on drives to the basket, with Antetokounmpo bruising his lower back and Morant aggravating an already injured right hand.
Antetokounmpo didn’t practice Tuesday, but the Bucks haven’t ruled out the possibility the two-time MVP could play Wednesday in Game 2 against the Miami Heat. The Grizzlies called Morant a game-time decision against the Los Angeles Lakers after an MRI revealed no ligament damage.
An injury report released Tuesday listed Antetokounmpo as doubtful and Morant as questionable.
“We have 24-plus hours before game time, so he’ll get treatment,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ll see how he feels. I think there’s been a lot of progress. Hopefully there’s more in the next day or so.”
Antetokounmpo has a history of making rapid recoveries from injuries.
The most notable example came two years ago during the Bucks’ championship run. Antetokounmpo hyperextended his right knee during the Eastern Conference finals and missed the final two games of the Bucks’ 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, but he was named the MVP of the NBA Finals after averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and five assists in the 4-2 triumph over the Phoenix Suns, including a 50-point performance in the title-clinching win.
This season, Antetokounmpo sprained his right wrist just before the All-Star break but was back in the starting lineup for the Bucks’ next game, just four days after heading to New York to have the wrist examined.
“I would say we’re optimistic,” Budenholzer said.
Both teams have shown they can bounce back from losses in series openers.
The Grizzlies fell behind 1-0 in their first-round series with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year before winning in six games. The Bucks have lost Game 1 six previous times during Budenholzer’s tenure and won five of those series.
“I’m not necessarily saying that you’re going to fight back all the time, but I think it kind of tests you in a different way,” Bucks forward Bobby Portis said. “Sometimes those tests can be good for a team.”