With only two games remaining on the Bucks’ regular-season schedule, Milwaukee wants to ensure its players are healthy entering the playoffs.
Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Saturday’s 133-128 loss to the Nets to rest his sore calf. Coach Mike Budenholzer revealed after the game that Antetokounmpo suffered the new injury when he was “kicked or hit” Thursday during the Bucks’ victory over the 76ers.
“He felt it yesterday and was still feeling it a little bit today,” Budenholzer said Saturday, via ESPN. “I wouldn’t term it ‘resting.'”
Antetokounmpo has been reluctant to sit out games all season because he wants to be on the court with his teammates, but Budenholzer explained that the 24-year-old forward has gotten better with understanding the need to rest.
“There has been a significant amount of success and winning that has helped him be less difficult,” Budenholzer said. “I have flashbacks to the first couple games, he was upset every time I took him out of the game. When I think about that to where we are today, it has been great.”
The focus now shifts to the playoffs for the Bucks, who are 59-21 and sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a three-game lead over the Raptors. Antetokounmpo, who has sat out nine games this season, acknowledged last month that the Bucks need to do what they can to stay healthy for their postseason run.
“The thing that is most important for this team is to stay healthy,” Antetokounmpo told reporters. “And get the guys that have been out — get them back and help them get back into the rhythm and prepare for the playoffs. … As long as we stay healthy, we are going to be fine.”
Antetokounmpo has been a significant factor behind Milwaukee’s success this season. He has been averaging 27.7 points with 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists, while shooting 57.7 percent from the field.