Milwaukee Bucks: Does Damian Lillard’s Monster Game 1 Vs. Pacers Impact Outlook on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Injury?

It did not feel like the Milwaukee Bucks were missing the services of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday. This is thanks in large part to a monster performance from Damian Lillard, who exploded for 35 points to lead his team to a routine 109-94 victory over their Central Division rivals.

For his part, Antetokounmpo is still working his way back to get fully healthy, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be ready for Game 2 on Tuesday. This only means that Lillard will likely need to lead the charge again with his superstar teammate potentially out of the picture.

Milwaukee Bucks News: Doc Rivers Speaks Reveals Outlook on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Injury

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo MVP

Mar 12, 2024; Sacramento, California, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) closes his eyes during the National Anthem at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Rivers was asked by reporters if Lillard’s strong play in Game 1 has any impact on Antetokounmpo’s injury status moving forward. According to the tenured shot-caller, Dame’s explosion does not in any way afford the Bucks to be more cautious in handling Giannis’ injury:

“No, no. We want Giannis back,” declared Rivers, via Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “So, when he comes back, we want him back on the floor because they’re good. I mean, Indiana’s good. They’re going to be better tomorrow. And we’re going to have to be better.”

Milwaukee Bucks, Damian Lillard, GloRilla, NBA Playoffs, Indiana PacersApr 7, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) warms up during shoot around before their game against the New York Knicks at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

This speaks volumes of how much respect Rivers and the Bucks have for the Pacers. Simply put, they will do everything in their power to get Giannis back on the floor as soon as they can, regardless of how the series might play out.

Doc Rivers Wary of Pacers Threat

Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, Rick Carlisle, Tyrese Haliburton, Damian LillardApr 14, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots the ball in the first half against the Atlanta Hawks at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rivers then went on to send a stern reminder to his team about the looming threat Indiana brings to the table. This team is the No. 6 seed for a reason, and there’s just no way the Pacers are going to go down without a fight.

“That’s the other message today: everybody, every team in the Playoffs grows, and by the end, someone’s really good,” he continued, “Our job is to say, ‘Alright, that’s over with. Now let’s get better for the next game. And let’s keep getting better.’ That’s the key for us.”

The Bucks can’t control how the Pacers react in Game 2 after their blowout loss in the series opener. However, Rivers expect their opponents to play much better than they did in Game 1. For their part, all Milwaukee can do is make the necessary preparations for any and all eventualities.

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