Giannis avoids structural damage, but return unclear

The Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is 'doubtful' tonight with a hyperextended knee, but Dr. Michael Gilmore tells MajorWager he's not playing tonight and is probably done for the East finals.

UPDATE on Sunday, 7/4/21 at 2:26 p.m. Eastern: Antetokounmpo missed Games 5 and 6 of the East finals. He’s listed as questionable’ for Tuesday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Phoenix.

Giannis Antetokounmpo got great news Wednesday when the results of his MRI revealed no structural damage from his awkward fall during Milwaukee’s Game 4 loss at Atlanta on Tuesday. According to a team release, the Bucks’ two-time MVP is listed as ‘doubtful’ for tonight’s Game 5 at home against the Hawks.

The official diagnosis is a hyperextended left knee. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that there’s no clear timetable for his return.

I reached out to renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Gilmore, who absolutely nailed his analysis of Tua Tagoviola’s injury prior to Alabama’s huge showdown game vs. Joe Burrow and LSU in November of 2019.

When I asked Gilmore about when/if Antetokounmpo could return, he told MajorWager, “At minimum a week but generally longer than that. He’s not playing tonight and probably done [for the East finals] since it’s already Game 5. With the kind of twisting, bending and pivoting in the game of basketball, as a doctor I would be very concerned about putting him back out too quickly because that could very well lead to tearing further internal structures due to the knee not functioning like normal.”

When I asked Gilmore if taking a shot was possible to get Antetokounmpo back on the court sooner, he said, “No, I wouldn’t do a steroid shot. If he’s limping on a hyperextended knee like that, at minimum he tweaked a ligament. He’s very lucky if he truly didn’t injure something more. It can be hard to see everything on an MRI toward the back of the knee, which is why history and exam and diagnostic correlation is so important. We will know more when they try getting him a little more functional to see if he can walk normal and not have mechanical symptoms (locking, catching, instability, etc.).”

As of early Thursday morning, most books had Milwaukee installed as a two-point favorite with the total in the 215-216 range. The Hawks were +120 on the money line.

Atlanta won Game 4 in blowout fashion to even the seven-game series at 2-2. The Hawks are two wins away from their first NBA Finals appearance since the franchise moved to Atlanta.

The adjusted series price is nearly a pick ’em, with most spots listing the Bucks at around -120 favorites.

Atlanta’s Clint Capela and Trae Young are both listed as ‘questionable’ tonight. Capela took an elbow to the eye late in the fourth quarter of Game 4. His diagnosis is eye inflammation.

Young missed Game 4 after suffering a deep bone bruise in his right foot late in the third quarter of Game 3.

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