Giannis Antetokounmpo's injury cast a dark cloud over the Bucks' win over the Celtics

MILWAUKEE — Things were looking good for the Milwaukee Bucks until 3:40 remained in the third quarter of Tuesday's game against the Boston Celtics. In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Bucks are up 15 points on the NBA's only 60-win team.

Then disaster struck.

Without making contact with another player, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo crumpled to the ground as he ran down the court, immediately grabbing the lower half of his left leg.

After sitting briefly with teammates and a trainer around him, Antetokounmpo put weight on his leg and then put an arm around the shoulders of teammates Brook Lopez and Thanasis Antetokounmpo to help him off the floor. Eventually, Antetokounmpo walked back to the Bucs locker room under his own power.

During the fourth quarter of a 104-91 win over Milwaukee, the Bucs announced that Antetokounmpo suffered a strain in his left calf. After the game, Bucks coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Antetokounmpo underwent further testing after the game on both his left calf and his left hamstring.

“They're checking him for the calf, which is obviously an MRI,” Rivers said. “They'll check both of them, yes.”

When Rivers further confirmed the test, he said it had not yet been completed and that Antetokounmpo had left the arena for imaging.

Bucks point guard Damian Lillard was the closest player to Antetokounmpo on the play when he brought the ball up and watched Antetokounmpo go down.

“Anytime you see one of your teammates go down, it's a real concern,” Lillard said. “We spend a lot of time around each other, we spend more than our family, so I think that's the number one thing. To be your best player at this point in the season, to be such an important part of our team, it was like an “oh s—” moment, especially Because there is no one else.

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“I was right next to him. So I saw what his facial expression was like, his reaction. So, obviously, I was scared. I knew we were going to call a timeout, so I jumped half court and when he stood up, he called it. I could tell he wanted to try the weight. And I saw him put some weight on him, and it was like, his reaction almost made him back off. But he put the weight on, so I was like, 'Okay. This looks stronger than I thought.'

“To see that he can even walk on his own, I think that showed me a lot. And frankly, it's encouraging to see. Now you just want him to be healthy.

Rivers agreed with Lillard, especially on Apr. With the NBA playoffs starting at 20, there is real concern about Antetokounmpo's health moving forward.

“Hi, I'll say that,” Rivers said of his level of concern. “But he is Giannis. I think everyone probably feels the same as I do right now. We're just going to hope for the best. “

With Tuesday's win, Milwaukee moved to 48-31 on the season. With three regular season games remaining, the Bucks are one game ahead of the New York Knicks in second place in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks hold the tiebreaker over the Knicks, but there are more concerns in the standings.

The Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers are two games up for the Bucks. The Cleveland Cavaliers own the division record tiebreaker over the Bucks, but have now lost three straight games and have won just three of their last 10 games. On the other hand, the tiebreaker is up in the air against the Magic, who face the Bucks twice in the final three regular-season games — first Wednesday night in Milwaukee and then Sunday in Orlando for both in the regular-season finale. Teams.

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In between meetings with the Magic, the Bucks face the Thunder, whom they defeated on March 24 in Oklahoma City. This season, the Bucs are 3-3 in games Antetokounmpo doesn't play.

The Bucks have yet to announce any further imaging results Antetokounmpo underwent following the game.

Therefore, at this point, the only diagnosis made by the team was a left soleus strain. The soleus is one of the two muscles that make up the calf, so teams will often refer to soleus strains as the most common calf strain, but there are cases where teams have specific cases where a player has suffered a soleus strain. One of those instances occurred with Lillard last season, when he was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.

“It hurts,” Lillard said in response to a question Athletic How I felt when I suffered the same injury in the first month of the 2022-23 season. “It hurt. … When I did that, I was able to do things normally. I feel like I have a high pain tolerance, and when I did that, I started walking, and not only was it painful, but the muscle couldn't handle it.

“So, once it calms down, I think you find a way to wrap it around, but it's a weird feeling. But listening to it, I know, I know that feeling. As someone who's been through it — if that's what it is — it's also inspiring.

As for Lillard, a calf strain on the same leg caused his plantar injury after sidelining him earlier in the season. Lillard was first listed on injury report on November 6, 2022, but played through the injury until he suffered a soleus strain a few weeks later.

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“When I did that, I strained my calf, and then I came back, eight or nine days later, I came back from the calf,” Lillard said. “And then … I had a soleus injury right after I came back. I think it was like a game or two after I came back and I did my soleus. After that it took two weeks. For me, it was like two weeks, and then I came back and played.

Lillard was first listed on Portland's injury report on Nov. 20, and the Trail Blazers played with the Indiana Pacers on Dec. He did not play again until playing on 4, about 14 days after the initial diagnosis.

For the Bucks, the NBA playoffs are 11 days away, so Antetokounmpo's timeline will depend entirely on the severity of the soleus strain and whether or not it's the only injury the team has suffered when the results of Tuesday night's tests come back.

(Photo by Giannis Antetokoumpo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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