In some ways, the NBA shutting down in March worked out quite well for the Milwaukee Bucks. Five days prior to the suspension of the season, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sprained his knee in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. While Milwaukee's No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference was virtually assured, the Lakers went into the hiatus trailing Milwaukee by only two games in the loss column. With Antetokounmpo likely out for some period of time, they could have claimed the NBA's top record away from the Bucks, and even if they hadn't, a compromised Giannis would have posed serious problems in the postseason.
Fortunately for the Bucks, that won't be something that they need to worry about after the four-month COVID-19 hiatus concludes in July. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer spoke to ESPN's Jackie McMullan and confirmed that Antetokounmpo is fully healthy and ready to go.
"It's a huge advantage for us that Giannis will be completely and totally healthy," Budenholzer said. "He's in a great place, both mentally and physically.
"Who's to say how things would have gone if we kept on playing? I'm not sure it would be safe to say [Giannis] would have missed a couple of weeks. Could it have been less? Maybe. Could it have been more? Perhaps. We can look back a bit and say, 'Wow, I wonder what would have happened there.'"
If there is any doubt, the Bucks should be able to work him back into game shape slowly. Milwaukee's 53-12 record affords it the luxury of caution in the eight regular-season seeding games each team will play at Disney. Short of a total collapse, the Bucks will keep the No. 1 seed, and even if they lose it, the stakes are significantly lower without home-court advantage at Disney. The Bucks can, therefore, afford to limit his minutes if necessary before the playoffs begin.
Health will be a major concern for every team in Orlando. There is no precedent for a four-month absence leading into the postseason. Injuries will be a risk across the league, but Milwaukee can at least take solace in the fact that they will be as healthy as any other team when the season resumes.