Bucks don't rule out Antetokounmpo return for NBA Finals

Los Angeles (AFP) –


The Milwaukee Bucks are still hoping two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo could return from injury in time to boost their championship series bid against the Phoenix Suns.

The Greek star missed the last two games of the Bucks' Eastern Conference Finals victory over the Atlanta Hawks after hyperextending his left knee in game four.

With game one of the of the NBA Finals set for Tuesday, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo was "day-to-day" with the injury.

"You have to listen to the player and then you have to listen to the sports performance group, and at some point (Bucks general manager) Jon Horst and myself are part of the conversations, but it’s just a day-to-day thing," Budenholzer said after the Bucks beat the Hawks 118-107 in Atlanta on Saturday night for a 4-2 series victory.

"We'll update it when appropriate. The conversations between he and myself, it's kind of private and we'll see where he is each day."

Khris Middleton came up big in Antetokounmpo's absence, scoring 32 points in the series-clinching win that sent the Bucks to their first NBA Finals since 1974.

Budenholzer said he wouldn't expect any less from all the Bucks players if Antetokounmpo remains sidelined.

"If he's on the bench for whatever reason, we need to be able to play," said Budenholzer, who added that he was impressed with Antetokounmpo's enthusiasm and leadership from the sidelines during the final two games against Atlanta.

"I think he almost got a delay of game," he said of Antetokounmpo's enthusiastic in-game conversations with teammates during Saturday's game.

"To see that kind of leadership, that kind of connection and that kind of committment from a player you know would be dying to be out there -- I just loved his energy on the bench."