MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t play for the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said at his pregame availability that Antetokounmpo wouldn’t be available due to the bruised lower back that knocked the two-time MVP out of the Bucks’ 130-117 Game 1 loss on Sunday.
“(We were) hopeful that he would play and also aware that he might not,” Budenholzer said. “The guys are ready. The group’s focused and in a good place.”
Antetokounmpo had been listed as doubtful in the injury report Tuesday but was upgraded to questionable Wednesday. Antetokounmpo left the Bucks’ Game 1 loss for good early in the second quarter.
“He’s continued to improve, but organizationally and talking and working with him and the sports performance group, the decision was made,” Budenholzer said. “He’s out. The guys that are ready and the guys that are available are good to go. We’ll continue to monitor him and expect for him to improve and still continue to be optimistic that soon he’ll be ready to play.”
Antetokounmpo was driving to the basket with a little over four minutes left in the first quarter Sunday when he collided with Miami’s Kevin Love, who got called for a blocking foul on the play.
Antetokounmpo landed awkwardly on his backside and lay on the floor before getting up slowly. He stayed in the game to attempt his free throws and didn’t leave until picking up his second foul with 1:46 left in the first quarter.
Antetokounmpo then headed into the locker room, only to return to the game with 9:56 remaining in the second quarter. He headed back to the locker room with 8:33 left in the second quarter and didn’t play again.
The Bucks went 11-8 in games Antetokounmpo missed during the regular season. That included a pair of losses in Miami, though the Bucks also beat the Heat 128-99 in a Feb. 24 game in which Antetokounmpo played just six minutes before leaving with a right knee issue.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Antetokounmpo’s absence likely means the Bucks’ style of play “will be just a little bit different.” In their four regular-season matchups with the Heat, the Bucks averaged 52.5 3-point attempts when Antetokounmpo was out and 43 3-point attempts when he was in the starting lineup.
The Bucks also were missing Wesley Matthews, who was out with a right calf strain after playing 18 minutes in Game 1. Budenholzer said Matthews got hurt during Sunday’s game.
The Heat didn’t have Tyler Herro, who broke his right hand in Game 1. Herro is undergoing surgery Friday and likely won’t return unless the Heat reach the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee had Bobby Portis fill Antetokounmpo’s usual spot in the starting lineup. Miami’s Duncan Robinson started in place of Herro.
Miami’s Kyle Lowry, who was listed as questionable with a sore left knee, will be available to play Wednesday. ___
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