Just a week ago, Bucks fans were holding their collective breath when Giannis Antetokounmpo crashed to the floor in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Fast-forward to Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, and the two-time MVP looked a lot like his usual self.
Antetokounmpo had 20 points, 17 rebounds and four assists in Milwaukee’s 118-105 loss to Phoenix, an impressive performance considering “The Greek Freak” had only gone from doubtful to questionable Tuesday afternoon. During his post-game media availability, Antetokounmpo, who suffered a hyperextension of his left knee against the Hawks but avoided any structural damage, told reporters that he felt no pain in his 35 minutes of action.
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“Okay. You know, obviously I’m not trying to do it about myself, but it felt great,” Antetokounmpo said. “You know, the medical staff gave me permission to play, and you know, out there I had my balance. I thought my knee was stable. I wasn’t in pain. So it felt good.”
Antetokounmpo may feel good now, but he admitted that he initially feared the worst when he fell in the previous round of the NBA playoffs. He has not yet seen the clip of the play in which he was injured.
“I’m happy man. I came down, I thought I was going to be out this year. I thought I was gone,” Antetokounmpo said. “I thought I would roll over, hurt my whole knee. Just be able to be on the bench and not be on a cold table undergoing surgery and supporting those guys, watching the game and walking and hanging out with them. Obviously, My competitive side will want to play, but at the end of the day, you always have to find the positives in everything you go through in order to move on.
“You know, I’m happy that they were able to get the job done. They played great. They played together. I was extremely proud of the team and I’m happy to have the opportunity to be there with them again.” and finish what we started. “
“When the play happened I thought, ‘I’m going to be out for a year.’ I’m happy to be back two games later. “
– NBA TV (@NBATV) July 7, 2021
Antetokounmpo underwent a rigorous rehabilitation process in order to obtain clearance to play from Milwaukee medical personnel. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo had been “checking boxes the last few days and making progress.” He credited both the All-Star forward and the team’s staff for getting him back on the court so quickly.
“I think there were a lot of good things, considering five days and what has happened these last five, six, seven days,” Budenholzer said. “I think 17 rebounds, 20 points, a great play, passing, defending the rim, he’s like everyone else. I’m sure we’ll find some things that he could improve on. I think he’s usually been playing it, he’s a rhythm guy. .
“So I’m excited about how he will improve from Game 1 to Game 2. We’ll see how he feels. But I think the game-wise, he always improves when he plays.”