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The Bucks do not rule out the return of Antetokounmpo for the NBA Finals

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Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is injured against Clint Capela of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals at State Farm Arena on June 29, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Getty Images via AFP)

LOS ANGELES – The Milwaukee Bucks are still hoping that two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo can return from injury in time to boost his championship series bet against the Phoenix Suns.

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

With the first game of the NBA Finals scheduled 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 athletic performance group, and at some point (Bucks GM) Jon Horst and I 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 win.

“We will update it when appropriate. The conversations between him and I are somewhat private and we will see where he is every day. “

Khris Middleton stood out in Antetokounmpo’s absence, scoring 32 points in the series victory that sent the Bucks to their first NBA Finals since 1974.

Budenholzer said he would expect no less from all Bucks players if Antetokounmpo remains on the sidelines.

“If he’s on the bench for whatever reason, we have to be able to play,” said Budenholzer, adding that he was impressed with Antetokounmpo’s enthusiasm and leadership from the bench during the last two games against Atlanta.

“I think the game was almost delayed,” he said of Antetokounmpo’s enthusiastic in-game conversations with his teammates during Saturday’s game.

“Seeing that kind of leadership, that kind of connection and that kind of commitment from a player you know would be looking forward to being there. I loved his energy on the bench.”

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