Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard ‘Very Close’ To Bucks Return

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA News
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks coach Doc Rivers remains optimistic that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard will recover from their injuries in time to participate in the later stages of their Eastern Conference first-round NBA playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.

Despite missing key players, the Bucks extended their playoff run with a convincing 115-92 victory in Game 5 on Tuesday. Rivers was queried about Antetokounmpo and Lillard’s status for the upcoming games.

“I’m really hoping they can join us soon,” Rivers stated. “They’re nearly ready to return.”

Antetokounmpo has been sidelined throughout the series with a strained left calf, initially injured in a game against the Boston Celtics on April 9.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

During that match, he experienced difficulty moving and had to leave the game after visibly struggling. Subsequent medical examinations confirmed the muscle strain. Lillard has been out since twisting his knee and injuring his Achilles in Game 3, further complicating his return.

The Bucks managed to stave off elimination in Tuesday’s must-win game, reducing the Pacers’ series lead to 3-2. The series moves to Indianapolis for Game 6 on Thursday.

Despite their injuries, Antetokounmpo and Lillard were active from the sidelines during Game 5, providing support and strategic advice to their teammates.

“They’re a big part of this team, even from the bench,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

Middleton has stepped up significantly, scoring 25 points or more in the last three games, even while nursing a sprained ankle. He delivered a stellar performance in Game 5 with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. “Khris was phenomenal tonight,” praised Rivers.

Other Bucks players also rose to the occasion. Bobby Portis, rebounding from a previous game ejection, posted 29 points and 10 rebounds. Despite a strained oblique, Patrick Beverley contributed 13 points and 12 assists, while Pat Connaughton added nine points and four assists in his best performance of the series.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Milwaukee Bucks Updates

The team remains hopeful that their perseverance will allow enough time for their star players to heal and rejoin the lineup in this tightly contested series.

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