Bucks’ Damian Lillard returns from injury, Giannis Antetokounmpo out vs. Raptors

Bucks’ Damian Lillard is back, but he won’t have Giannis Antetokounmpo alongside him

Bucks' Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo with Fiserv Forum in background

A healthy Damian Lillard will not completely obscure the distress that Milwaukee Bucks fans are feeling following perplexing back-to-back losses to the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies, but it sure does help. The eight-time All-Star is returning to action on Friday versus the Toronto Raptors after missing the last three games with an abductor strain, according to Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report.

The Bucks, much like the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, have struggled to sustain momentum this season. Marquee victories over the Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder are overshadowed by awful outcomes against two of the worst teams in the NBA. If they are the squad that snaps Toronto’s 15-game losing streak, the optics will be disastrous.

Therefore, Milwaukee desperately needs it to be Dame Time in the Fiserv Forum. Lillard has been streaky from the field this year, shooting 42.6 percent overall and 35.8 percent from 3-point land, but he remains one of the most lethal scorers in crunch time. Ideally, though, the 33-year-old point guard will not have to exert so much energy against the moribund Raptors.

But with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and New York Knicks all within two games or less of the No. 2 seed, head coach Doc Rivers could be inclined to lean on the returning Lillard. Especially since the other half of his superstar duo might not be available.

Giannis Antetokounmpo could be held out of action Friday night, as Milwaukee tries to preserve his health for the NBA Playoffs. With momentum being a serious concern, however, the two-time MVP’s primary focus might be leading the Bucks to a slump-ending win.

We are in the homestretch now, so fans eagerly want to know if Antetokounmpo is playing tonight versus Toronto.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury status for Bucks game

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) takes a shot over Washington Wizards forward Anthony Gill (16) during the second quarter at Capital One Arena.Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

The Greek Freak was listed questionable with a left hamstring injury, per the latest injury report. He was later on downgraded to doubtful before being ruled out for the game, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

One would assume that Milwaukee is capable enough to defeat the 23-53 Raptors without Antetokounmpo, but considering how this week started for the team, there are no guarantees.

Surprisingly, the most alarming problem in the Bucks’ respective losses to the Wizards and Grizzlies is the mind-boggling disparity in points in the paint. In that category, they were outscored 76-36 in Wednesday’s 111-101 defeat to Memphis. Translation: Yikes!!

While an inactive Damian Lillard explains the low offensive output, it cannot justify how a team that has Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez manning the low-post area puts forth such a ghastly effort. Milwaukee’s issues seemingly run deeper than health. And it does not have much time to sort them out.

After they face the Raptors, the Bucks’ remaining regular season opponents all have 45 or more wins. They can possibly tumble down to the No. 5 slot in the Eastern Conference standings if this skid continues. Their best-case scenario is to lock down the No. 2 seed and earn home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Milwaukee cannot hide from its issues forever, but favorable positioning in the postseason bracket can afford the team a few more chances to address its turbulence before a potential collision with the Boston Celtics. Hence, what should be a mundane matchup against Toronto holds far more importance.

Damian Lillard is ready to work, but it will be difficult without Giannis Antetokounmpo. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET.

Related Posts

Our Privacy policy

https://adailymedia.com - © 2024 News