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Bucks' Antetokounmpo will miss final three games of regular season

Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo - The Canadian Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the Milwaukee Bucks' final three regular-season games after an MRI confirmed the initial diagnosis that the two-time MVP has a strained left calf.

The Bucks issued an update Wednesday regarding the injury that caused Antetokounmpo to leave late in the third quarter of the Bucks' 104-91 victory over the Boston Celtics a night earlier. Bucks coach Doc Rivers had said after Tuesday's game that Antetokounmpo was undergoing an MRI on his calf and also was getting his Achilles tested.

“Obviously there was some relief in what we found out,” Rivers said before the Bucks' Wednesday night game with the Orlando Magic.

The Bucks' update didn't make any predictions on Antetokounmpo's potential availability for the beginning of the playoffs. The release simply said that “Antetokounmpo will miss the remaining three games of the regular season and receive daily treatment and evaluation.”

Rivers said he's “hoping” that Antetokounmpo will return for the start of the playoffs.

“No timeline or anything like that, but we've got the best team working with him," Rivers said. “There's no one who's going to work harder than him. You know that. He'll be back when he should be back. We'll find out when that is.”

The Bucks finish the regular season by visiting Oklahoma City on Friday and Orlando on Sunday. Their opening playoff game would take place either April 20 or April 21.

Antetokounmpo was heading up the court after a 3-point basket by Boston’s Derrick White late in the third quarter Tuesday when the two-time MVP grabbed his left calf and took a seat on the floor. He eventually was helped off the court and was shown walking into the locker room under his own power.

Bucks guard Damian Lillard noted Tuesday night that he dealt with a similar injury last season while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard recalled that he came back from a calf injury after about eight or nine days, only to hurt his soleus. Lillard said he then ended up missing about two more weeks.

Antetokounmpo has dealt with injuries this time of year before, while showing an extraordinary ability to recover quickly.

During the Bucks’ 2020-21 championship season, Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee during the Eastern Conference finals. He missed the last two games of the Bucks’ 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Hawks but returned to play the entire NBA Finals and was named MVP of the series after scoring 50 points in a title-clinching Game 6 triumph over the Phoenix Suns.

Last year, Antetokounmpo bruised his lower back after getting fouled and landing hard in Game 1 of the Bucks’ first-round playoff series with the Miami Heat. Antetokounmpo sat out the rest of that game and also missed Milwaukee’s next two games before returning in Game 4 of a series the Bucks lost 4-1.