Giannis Antetokounmpo will play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, the team announced on Tuesday night. The two-time MVP suffered a hyperextended left knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks, and though he avoided any structural damage, he hasn't played since.
Although he was initially listed as doubtful, he was upgraded to questionable on Tuesday afternoon's injury report released by the Bucks. He's been given the go-ahead after receiving "around-the-clock treatment" on his knee to prepare for Game 1, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews. The star big man spent Monday going through an individual workout that was watched over by "an army of observers," according to Jared Greenberg of NBA TV.
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Following the series-clinching win over the Hawks, coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters it's a "day-to-day" situation. His full quote at the time:
"I mean, [Giannis] and the sports performance team, they have been together a long time. It's special to watch their relationship. It's special to watch the communication, the trust that he has. You have to listen to the player and then you have to listen to the sports performance group, and at some point Jon Horst and myself are part of the conversations, but it's just a day-to-day thing. We'll update it when appropriate. The conversations between he and myself and he and the sports performance group, it's kind of private and we'll see where he is each day.
The injury occurred in the third quarter of Game 4, when Giannis went up to block an alley-oop attempt by Clint Capela and landed awkwardly on his left leg. He remained down on the court for several moments after the fall, before being helped off the court by his brother, Thanasis, and the medical staff. After a brief return to the Bucks' bench during the third quarter, he eventually made his way back to the locker room and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
You can see the play where the injury occurred below:
Giannis appears to have injured his leg.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 30, 2021
Prayers up 🙏 pic.twitter.com/cHZXCIsBEd
The Bucks proved in Games 5 and 6 against the Hawks that they're still a formidable team even without their best player. But as they prepare for their first Finals appearance in nearly 50 years, there's no question they'd prefer to do so with Giannis on the court. Their wish has now seemingly been granted.