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SPORTS

Antetokounmpo Has Strained Calf, Sits Out Against Magic, Will Also Miss Final 2 Regular-Season Games

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the rest of the regular season after an MRI confirmed the two-time MVP has a strained left calf, while his availability for the start of the playoffs remains uncertain.

Antetokounmpo left the Bucks’ 104-91 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night after he struggled to run upcourt late in the third quarter. The Bucks provided an update on Antetokounmpo’s status Wednesday.

The Bucks were encouraged that Antetokounmpo’s only injury involved his calf, because coach Doc Rivers had said after the game Tuesday that the 7-footer also was undergoing testing on his Achilles.

“I think that was the best news for everybody,” Bucks guard Damian Lillard said Wednesday after a 117-99 triumph over the Orlando Magic. “If it’s worse than that, then we’re looking at our season like, how can you expect to win the way we want to win without him. That was great news, I’m sure, for everybody.”

There are two games left in the regular season and the Bucks’ update didn’t make any predictions on Antetokounmpo’s potential availability for the beginning of the playoffs.

“No timeline or anything like that, but we’ve got the best team working with him,” Rivers said. “There’s no one who’s going to work harder than him. You know that. He’ll be back when he should be back. We’ll find out when that is.”

Rivers was asked if he expects Antetokounmpo to be ready for the playoffs.

“Yeah, I’m hoping,” Rivers said. “I don’t know. I’m just hoping.”

The Bucks finish the regular season by visiting Oklahoma City on Friday and Orlando on Sunday. Their opening playoff game would take place either April 20 or 21.

Antetokounmpo was heading up the court after a 3-point basket by Boston’s Derrick White late in the third quarter Tuesday when the two-time MVP grabbed his left calf and took a seat on the floor. He eventually was helped off the court and was shown walking into the locker room under his own power.

The Bucks later diagnosed him with a strained left soleus. The soleus is a muscle in the calf.

Lillard noted Tuesday night that he dealt with a similar injury last season while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard recalled that he came back from a calf injury after about eight or nine days, only to hurt his soleus. Lillard said he then ended up missing about two more weeks.

“It’s a much better feeling knowing that that’s what it is as opposed to an Achilles,” Lillard said Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo has dealt with injuries this time of year before, while showing an extraordinary ability to recover quickly.

During the Bucks’ 2020-21 championship season, Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee during the Eastern Conference finals. He missed the last two games of the Bucks’ 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Hawks but returned to play the entire NBA Finals and was named MVP of the series after scoring 50 points in a title-clinching Game 6 triumph over the Phoenix Suns.

Last year, Antetokounmpo bruised his lower back after getting fouled and landing hard in Game 1 of the Bucks’ first-round playoff series with the Miami Heat. Antetokounmpo sat out the rest of that game and also missed Milwaukee’s next two games before returning in Game 4 of a series the Bucks lost 4-1.


By STEVE MEGARGEE AP Sports Writer

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