Giannis Antetokounmpo Knee Injury: Can the Bucks Defeat Hawks in Game 5 Without the Greek Freak

Published 06/30/2021, 1:19 AM EDT
Jun 15, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts during the fourth quarter of game five of the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports


The NBA Finals atmosphere is intense, as four teams are battling it out for a place to win a championship. However, injures have been a common sight in these playoffs. It all started with LA Lakers’ Anthony Davis who suffered a groin injury, and then, the Clippers lost Kawhi Leonard.

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The Atlanta vs Bucks series has been full of excitement and surprises. But game 3 saw Atlanta’s ‘Ice Trae’ go down in the 3rd quarter. They lost that game 113-102 and saw themselves trailing in the series. While Trae Young did return to the game, he could only add 3 points in the 4th quarter. Khris Middleton saved the day for the Bucks with a huge 20 point 4th quarter.

Now it seems like the tables have turned in Atlanta’s favor. The Trae Young-less Hawks upset the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals as they won 110-88 to level the series. However, the biggest takeaway from the game is Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury. In the 3rd quarter, while trying to block a Clint Capela dunk, he landed awkwardly on his left knee and instantly went down. He did not return to the game, and the Bucks said it was a hyper-extended left knee.

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‘The Greek Freek’ going down does bring the question: can the Bucks win Game 5 without Giannis Antetokounmpo?

The Bucks without Giannis

In the regular season, the Bucks had a record of 6-5 when Giannis didn’t suit up. Middleton averaged 22.5 points a game while Jrue put up 20 points and 7 assists per game. But the Bucks have been shooting poorly in the playoffs. Holiday is shooting a mere 28% from beyond the arc, and Middleton is shooting 33% as opposed to his regular-season 41%.

Jun 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) passes over Atlanta Hawks forward Cam Reddish (22) in the first quarter during game four of the Eastern Conference Finals for the 2021 NBA Playoffs at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Above all, big man Brook Lopez has not been performing up to the mark and averaged 10 points and only 2.7 rebounds a game against the Hawks. Giannis is the Deers’ main offensive threat in the first three quarters of the game. He can easily get into the paint and wear out opposition players. Without Giannis, Milwaukee has no player who can dominate and score at will.

Giannis has been dominant in this series averaging 24 points. In addition, he also averages 11 rebounds and a block per game. Giannis is irreplaceable for the Bucks. The two-time MVP has led the playoffs in rebounds and has always been a defensive force given his sheer size and nuclear athleticism. Before going down in Game 4, Giannis gave Milwaukee 14 points, 8 rebounds, and a block. This shows his impact on the floor.

Jun 13, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets during game four in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

If he misses out on Game 5, his likely replacements could be Bobby Portis or Pat Connaughton. While Portis has been performing really well shooting 57% from deep in the series, the Bucks have no one who can rebound the way Giannis can. The ‘Greek Freak’ is the rebound leader in the playoffs. Notably, he is the only Bucks player who averages over 10 rebounds, and the next best is Middleton who averages 7.9 rebounds a game.

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What does this mean for the Bucks?

Without Giannis on the floor, the Bucks have looked like a very weak team. Since Giannis left the floor in game 4, the Hawks outscored the Bucks 25-10 in the 3rd quarter. Moreover, Milwaukee got only 1 rebound compared to the Hawks who got 10. It is evident that the Bucks struggle without Giannis on both ends of the floor.

To conclude, without Giannis, the Bucks will need all they have to win against the Hawks. Middleton and Holiday need to score more. Lopez needs to be dominant on the rebounds as a big man, and they will need a complete team effort to have any chance at winning.

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However, the way the series has looked, Atlanta has a huge window to take control of this series in Game 5, and inch one step closer to the NBA finals. Who do you think will come out on top?

WATCH THIS STORY- Paul George’s incredible performance, Devin Booker’s Buzzer Beater by half time, other LA Clippers vs Phoenix Suns Game 5 WCF highlights

 

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Anuj Talwalkar

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