Giannis Antetokounmpo to reportedly miss Bucks' early playoff games with calf strain, could return later

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the first few games of the playoffs with a calf strain. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Milwaukee Bucks, the third-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, are "preparing to be without" their megawatt star Giannis Antetokounmpo as the playoffs begin. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the calf strain Antetokounmpo sustained during the Bucks' final handful of games hasn't healed enough to allow him to play. However, there is a chance he could return at some point in the first round.

Antetokounmpo injured his calf during the Bucks' April 9 win over the Boston Celtics. He exited the game in the third quarter after an awkward, non-contact landing on his leg. He could barely jog and awkwardly limped to the locker room. The Bucks ruled him out almost immediately.

A non-contact injury typically has people expecting the worst, so hearing that Giannis was only dealing with a calf strain was a positive — but not as positive as him avoiding injury altogether. The Bucks announced on April 10 that Giannis would miss the team's three final regular season games as he rehabbed, meaning there was no guarantee he'd be ready for the start of the playoffs.

The Bucks needed to win those final three games (two against the Orlando Magic and one versus the Oklahoma City Thunder) to keep the ankle-biting New York Knicks from stealing the No. 2 seed from them. Unfortunately Milwaukee wasn't able to take advantage, losing two of three and slipping to No. 3.

Giannis won't be on the floor (he's been getting round-the-clock treatment on his calf, according to Woj), but the Bucks still have a playoff series to win. They kick off the first round on Saturday with Game 1 versus the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers.