As the Milwaukee Bucks played their first NBA Finals game in nearly half a century on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns, they did so with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the starting lineup.
Antetokounmpo, who hyperextended his left knee in an awkward and ugly fall in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals a week ago against the Hawks in Atlanta, played 35 minutes in Game 1 and fought the entire time. He finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and four assists, but the Suns took a 1-0 lead with a 118-105 victory.
Antetokounmpo was listed as doubtful for Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern final, and was ruled out before each of those games. On Tuesday, however, Antetokounmpo went from dubious to questionable in the league’s initial injury report, which is released at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Then, about two hours before the game, Antetokounmpo was on the court testing his knee, doing some shooting and dribbling exercises to see if he felt good enough to go against the Suns.
During his pregame media availability, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer declined to elaborate on where Antetokounmpo was in his recovery.
Antetokounmpo, 26, who averaged 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the 15 postseason games leading up to the Finals, is coming off a third consecutive season in the first-team All-NBA and the fifth consecutive season in the Game. Stars for the Bucks. The two-time League MVP signed a five-year supermax contract extension with Milwaukee in December to stay with the franchise for the foreseeable future, a move that came in the wake of the Bucks sending several future first-round picks. to the Pelicans in exchange for Star Guard Jrue Holiday.
The Bucks are in the Finals for the first time since 1974 and hope to win their first NBA championship since 1971, when Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the stars of Milwaukee. The Suns, on the other hand, have never won an NBA title and are in the Finals for the first time since 1993, when Charles Barkley’s team lost to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in six games.