The Milwaukee Bucks managed to keep their season alive with a 118-115 overtime win over the Miami Heat in Game 4 on Sunday, despite playing the final three quarters and overtime without reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks superstar re-injured the same right ankle that he twisted in Game 3 and did not return.
Antetokounmpo fought to get back into the game according to multiple reports, but was ultimately overruled. He was unable to plant or jump off the sprain, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game that the team will “see how he does over the next 24-48 hours” before determining his status for Game 5 on Tuesday, another must-win for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo sprained his ankle while drawing a foul on a drive early in the second quarter. He let out an audible scream and stayed on the floor for a couple of minutes before being helped to the bench.
Antetokounmpo was able to shoot his free throws, which would have allowed him to return, but the Bucks ruled their superstar out for the rest of the game just after the halftime whistle. He finished with 19 points and four rebounds in 11 minutes — and finished with more points than Jimmy Butler despite playing 27 fewer minutes.
Behind Khris Middleton’s 36-point performance, however, the Bucks managed to win the game and stave off elimination. No NBA team has ever come back to win a playoff series after being down 3-0. Clearly the franchise had the long-term health of the likely back-to-back MVP at the forefront of their thinking, and felt it wasn’t worth the risk to put him back into the game.