While the Milwaukee Bucks fell in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals, there was one silver lining: Giannis Antetokounmpo was able to play. After suffering a knee injury during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks, Antetokounmpo proceeded to watch on the sideline as Milwaukee wrapped up the series and earned a spot in the Finals.
Originally listed as doubtful, Antetokounmpo was upgraded to questionable earlier in the day on Tuesday and, after going through his pregame warmup, got the green light. He was one of the team’s bright spots on the evening, going for 20 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block in the 118-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Antetokounmpo gave a glimpse into the last week or so of his life after the game, saying that when he originally got hurt, his fear was that he’d be on the bench for the remainder of the postseason.
“When the play happened I thought, ‘I’m going to be out for a year.’ I’m just happy that two games later I’m back.”
Giannis discusses making his return from injury #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/eKGf64Q8uS
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 7, 2021
“I haven’t watched the clip, but when the play happened I thought, ‘I’m going to be out for a year,’” Antetokounmpo said. “So, I’m just happy that, two games later, I’m back.”
As for how he felt after 35 minutes against a pesky Suns side, Antetokounmpo gave as positive of an update as he could, saying, “I felt good, I don’t feel pain. I can run, I can jump, I can set screens, I can rebound the ball, I can do stuff. So, I’m good, I’m happy, I’m happy that I’m out there.”
Still, Antetokounmpo is in a race against time. Time will tell how he feels when he wakes up in the morning after playing an entire basketball game, while Game 2 of the Finals is on Thursday evening. Milwaukee was outclassed in Game 1, and any path back into the series will almost certainly require Antetokounmpo being the former league MVP that he is. The question now is whether or not his knee will let him get to that point.