Just a week ago, Bucks fans held their breath as Giannis Antetokounmpo crashed to the ground in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Fast forward to Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, and the double MVP looked a lot like himself.
Giannis Antetokounmpo crash
Antetokounmpo had 20 points, 17 rebounds and four assists in Milwaukee’s 118-105 loss to Phoenix, an impressive performance given that “The Greek Freak” only went from questionable to questionable on Tuesday afternoon. During his post-match media availability, Antetokounmpo, who suffered hyperextension of his left knee against the Hawks but avoided any structural damage, told reporters he had not felt any pain during his 35 minutes of action.
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“It’s okay. You know, obviously I wasn’t trying to be talked about, but I felt good,” Antetokounmpo said. “You know, the medical staff allowed me to play, and you know, there I had my balance. I thought my knee was stable. I didn’t feel any pain. So I felt good. . “
Antetokounmpo may be feeling great now, but he admitted he initially feared the worst when he lost in the previous round of the NBA playoffs. He still hasn’t watched the clip of the room he was injured in.
“I’m just happy, man. I fell, I thought I would be out all year. I thought I would be gone,” Antetokounmpo said. “I thought I would turn around – I would hurt my knee all over. Just being able to be on the bench and not be on a cold table to have surgery and support these guys, watch the game and walk around and share with them Obviously my competitive side will want to play but at the end of the day you still have to find the positive things in whatever you’re going through to be able to move forward.
“You know I’m happy they got to do the job. They played really well. They played together. I was extremely proud for the team and I’m happy to have the opportunity to be there. again with them. and finish what we started. “
“When the play arrived, I thought, ‘I’m going to be away for a year.’ I’m just happy to be back two games later.
– NBA TV (@NBATV) July 7, 2021
Antetokounmpo went through a rigorous rehab process in order to get clearance to play from Milwaukee medical staff. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo had “ticked boxes in recent days and made progress.” He thanked both the all-star striker and the team’s staff for bringing him back on the pitch so quickly.
“I think there have been a lot of good things, considering the five days and what he’s been through for the last five, six, seven days,” Budenholzer said. “I think 17 rebounds, 20 points, great playmaking, assists, rim defense, he’s like everyone else. I’m sure we’ll find things where he could be better. Usually takes him to play – he’s a rhythm guy.
“So I’m excited about how he will improve from Game 1 to Game 2. We’ll see how he feels. But I think in terms of play he always improves when he plays.”