Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (lower back) exits early against Heat
MILWAUKEE — Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out for the remainder of Sunday’s 130-117 Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat with a lower back contusion, the team announced.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after the first-round matchup that Antetokounmpo had an X-ray that came back “clear.”
“We’ll monitor him and see how he wakes up [Monday],” Budenholzer said.
Antetokounmpo fell hard to the floor and landed on his back after picking up a charging foul taken by Heat forward Kevin Love with 1:46 remaining in the first quarter. Antetokounmpo checked out of the game following his second foul in the first quarter but immediately headed toward the locker room. He emerged with tape around his lower back to begin the second quarter and returned to the game with 9:56 left in the frame.
However, Antetokounmpo did not attempt a shot during his next stint on the court and appeared hobbled while trying to run up the floor in transition. After Milwaukee took a delay of game violation at the 8:33 mark in the second quarter, Antetokounmpo checked out of the game again and went back to the locker room.
The Bucks then ruled him out for the rest of the contest.
“He just wasn’t moving [well],” Budenholzer said. “Didn’t look comfortable, confident. It felt like the right thing.”
Antetokounmpo scored six points on 2-of-4 shooting in 11 minutes.
Antetokounmpo has dealt with nagging injuries all season, including to his knee and his wrist. In the last regular-season meeting between Milwaukee and Miami on Feb. 24, Antetokounmpo left the game early with a quad injury after playing just six minutes in the first quarter.
So even though Antetokounmpo has shown the ability to return early from injuries in the past, Budenholzer said the team will have to determine the next steps over the following few days.
“We have to wait and see what the doctors say,” Budenholzer said. “Most importantly, what Giannis says. Certainly, we’ve been blessed with him being incredibly resilient and quick to heal, but you’ve just got to take it day by day and see how he’s doing and see how he feels.”
The Bucks are 11-8 this season in games during which Antetokounmpo did not play.
The Bucks had a net rating of plus-7.2 with Antetokounmpo on the floor this season, which would have led the league. Without him, their net rating was minus-1.4, which would have been 24th, between the Washington Wizards and Orlando Magic.
“We don’t want him to be hurt, but it’s still next-man-up mentality,” Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said. “We have enough talent on this team to cover for him until he comes back, so again, I just don’t want to see him hurt because I know what it feels like, especially Game 1 of the playoffs.”