Bucks open playoffs with Antetokounmpo and Lillard sidelined by injuries.

Milwaukee — Milwaukee Bucks are unsure about the health of their top two players heading into the playoffs. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and seven-time all-NBA guard Damian Lillard did not practice on Tuesday, according to Doc Rivers. Rivers didn't know if either would exercise all week, but they might play Sunday in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series with the Indiana Pacers without practicing.  

Antetokounmpo missed the Bucks' last three regular-season games due to a left leg issue. During Milwaukee's win over the Boston Celtics on April 9, Antetokounmpo took a seat and gripped his left leg, resulting in a strained soleus. “He’s doing well,” Rivers said Tuesday. Walking, he looks good. I can say he's farther than we imagined, but not ready.”  

Rivers wouldn't predict Antetokounmpo's Sunday availability. “First of all, I don’t make the decision – but our medical team is saying they don’t know, so I’m going to wait and see,” Rivers stated. "I don't know either way."  

In five regular-season games against the Pacers, Antetokounmpo averaged 42.2 points and 13 rebounds. Antetokounmpo set a Bucks single-game record with 64 points in their season-only win over the Pacers. Lillard missed Friday's loss against Oklahoma City due to a strained left adductor. He returned two days later but shot 2 of 14 in a loss against Orlando.  

I can tell you he's good since we did all the imaging and whatnot, Rivers remarked. “We and our doctors think he should rest. His conditioning is still going on, but we went live a lot today and didn't want him out there." Bucks forward Bobby Portis said Lillard will be ready for the series.  

“Dame sitting out wasn’t a shock or anything,” Portis added. It's Tuesday, and the game is Sunday, so it's far away. That shouldn't be overemphasized. I think we're exaggerating.” The Bucks are used to postseason injuries. Antetokounmpo has a history of fast injury recovery, most notably during the Bucks' 2021 championship run.  

The Bucks' 4-2 win against the Atlanta Hawks was cut short when Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. He returned and played the whole NBA Finals, winning MVP with 50 points in a Game 6 win over the Phoenix Suns.  

Since then, injuries have plagued the Bucks in both postseasons. Khris Middleton damaged his left medial collateral ligament in Game 2 of a 2022 first-round series with the Chicago Bulls and missed the whole playoffs, including the Bucks' 4-3 loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinal.  

Antetokounmpo hurt his lower back last year after being fouled and landing hard in Game 1 of the Bucks' first-round playoff series with the Miami Heat. Antetokounmpo missed the rest of that game and Milwaukee's next two before returning in Game 4 of a 4-1 series loss. The Bucks are preparing for Antetokounmpo's absence. “Until we know if he's playing or not, we'll prepare like he's not! Simple as that,” Middleton added.  

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