Giannis Antetokounmpo reportedly expected to miss start of Bucks-Pacers series

The Milwaukee Bucks are bracing to be without their two-time MVP when postseason play opens up this weekend. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to be out for the start of the Bucks’ first-round series against the Indiana Pacers due to a left calf strain, ESPN reported Tuesday. The eight-time All-Star forward could return later in the series, with the team holding optimism that continued treatment might have him ready to play by then, ESPN added in its report.

Antetokounmpo suffered the calf injury in the Bucks’ win over the Boston Celtics on April 9, falling down as he was running up the court to get on offense. As he grabbed his calf, Antetokounmpo left the game after being tended to. An MRI later revealed that he avoided Achilles damage, but suffered a soleus strain, The Athletic reported.

As a result, the Bucks were without Antetokounmpo for their final three games of the regular season. Milwaukee went 1-2, falling from the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference to the third seed.

As of Monday, at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bucks’ odds of defeating the Pacers in the opening round of the playoffs were at -180. Those odds have lengthened to -135 as of Tuesday afternoon. The Pacers’ odds of defeating the Bucks shortened from +145 to +110.

In addition, while the shortest odds for the exact outcome of the series is Bucks 4-3 (+290), the second-shortest odds are now Pacers 4-2 (+400). 

On Monday, the Bucks winning 4-1 and the Bucks winning 4-2 were tied for the second-shortest odds (+475). The Pacers winning 4-2 was at +550, the fourth-shortest odds.

Antetokounmpo’s injury was just one of the handful of bad developments to occur for the Bucks in the final weeks of the regular season. They went 3-8 with their final 11 games, including losses to the lowly Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. They’re 17-19 since Doc Rivers became their head coach.

Still, Antetokounmpo had an MVP candidate-worthy season. He scored 30.4 points per game on a career-best 61% shooting from the field, adding 11.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game.

But the Bucks face the possibility of being upset in the opening round of the postseason again. After losing to the Miami Heat as the No. 1 seed last year, the Bucks take on a sixth-seeded Pacers squad that won four of the five matchups between the two teams this season. 

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