The Milwaukee Bucks entered the All-Star Break with an NBA-best 12-game winning streak on the back of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is making a push to win a third career regular-season MVP Award to join some exclusive company. He’s currently +700 to do so on the NBA odds.
Bucks Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo Avoids Serious Damage To Wrist, Still To Miss Games
However, the Greek Freak will not be ready to play Friday when the Bucks come out of the break vs. Miami and probably sits at least a few other games as well due to a sprained wrist suffered in the team’s final game post-break in Chicago on Feb. 16.
Because of the injury, Giannis had to withdraw from the Skills Challenge on All-Star Weekend and only played 20 seconds in the All-Star Game itself, taking himself out after a dunk.
“I don’t think it was smart in any way to play a lot of minutes in an All-Star Game,” he said. “At the end of the day, you obviously want to participate. You want to run up and down, joke around, hustle, dunks, create some more but, at the end of the day, you also have to be mature.”
Antetokounmpo underwent X-rays that came back negative late last week, but the Bucks still wanted to send him to New York for further testing following the All-Star Game on Sunday. The 28-year-old’s tests didn’t show anything too concerning.
His return will be based on when swelling subsides. Antetokounmpo managed pain in his right hand and around his thumb last season, as well. Antetokounmpo has missed 11 games to date this season with knee soreness, and the Bucks have gone 6-5 in those games.
Giannis is averaging 31.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game this season for Milwaukee (41-17), which sits in second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Celtics (42-17). Avoiding a lengthy absence for Antetokounmpo should allow them to remain in what is shaping up to be a tight race at the top of the Eastern Conference and hold off the third-place 76ers, who are 2.5 games back of the Bucks, and fourth-place Cavaliers, who are 4.5 games behind the Bucks.
In last Thursday’s win over Chicago, Antetokounmpo passed Paul Pressey (3,272) for the most assists in franchise history. Antetokounmpo, who is 3rd in the NBA in scoring (career-high 32.5 ppg) and T-1st in rebounding (12.3 rpg) this season, is now the franchise leader in assists, points, blocks, triple-doubles, free throws made, free throws attempted and minutes played.
In addition to averaging 30+ points and 10+ rebounds a game, Antetokounmpo is also averaging 5+ assists and shooting better than 50% from the field. In NBA history, a player has averaged 30+ points, 10+ rebounds and 5+ assists while shooting 50% from the field only three other times – and not since the 1972-73 season.
It’s the first time Milwaukee has won 12 straight games since it won 18 consecutive games during the 2019-20 season. Overall, this is the 14th time in franchise history the Bucks have won 10+ games in a row.
During its win streak, Milwaukee is averaging 125.3 ppg (season avg: 114.9 ppg), having scored 120+ points in seven of the 11 games. I would circle Saturday, March 4 at home vs. Philadelphia as the most likely game for Giannis’ return.
The Bucks did make one move during the break in signing 7-footer Meyers Leonard to a 10-day contract. Leonard has not played in over two full years due to an antisemitism scandal and multiple injuries. In March of 2021, Leonard was livestreaming himself playing video games when he said an antisemitic slur. Following the incident, Leonard, who then played for the Heat, was fined $50,000 and suspended from all team activities for a week. Shortly thereafter, he was traded to the Thunder along with a 2027 second-round pick in exchange for Trevor Ariza. The Thunder waived Leonard and he has not played in the league since then.
In nine NBA seasons, Leonard has averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds while shooting 48.2% from the field and 39% from 3-point distance in 16 minutes per game.
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