Bucks Face Uncertainty as Playoffs Begin Against Pacers

The Bucks face uncertainty as Giannis and Lillard's injuries could impact their first-round playoff series against the Pacers, who are slight favorites after winning 4 of 5 regular-season meetings.

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Salman Khan
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Bucks Face Uncertainty as Playoffs Begin Against Pacers

Bucks Face Uncertainty as Playoffs Begin Against Pacers

The Milwaukee Bucks, who lost six of their last eight regular-season games, will open their 2024 NBA playoffs first-round series at home against the Indiana Pacers on April 21, 2024. However, the Bucks face uncertainty regarding the availability of their star players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard.

Antetokounmpo, who suffered a left calf strain on April 9, did not practice beyond a walkthrough on Saturday and is listed as doubtful for Game 1. The two-time MVP's recovery from a soleus muscle strain could take multiple weeks, potentially sidelining him for the early part of the series. "There is a slight possibility of Giannis' return, but his status remains uncertain," said Bucks coach Doc Rivers.

Lillard, who has been dealing with a sore adductor and Achilles tendon issue, participated fully in practice, signaling his readiness for the upcoming game. The All-Star point guard expressed confidence in his condition improving just in time for the playoffs, stating, "The Bucks are the best team I've been on and can win games as they are, and Giannis' return will only make them better."

The Bucks went 4-6 without Antetokounmpo this season, including a pair of losses last weekend that dropped them to the No. 3 seed. Milwaukee's top three players - Antetokounmpo, Lillard, and Khris Middleton - have been available for only five of their last 33 regular-season games, contributing to their 17-19 record under coach Doc Rivers after a 32-14 start.

Why this matters: The uncertainty surrounding the health of the Bucks' star players adds an extra layer of intrigue to their playoff series against the Pacers. The outcome of this matchup could have significant implications for the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.

The Pacers, making their first playoff appearance since 2020, are led by Tyrese Haliburton and are considered slight favorites over the Bucks. Indiana won four of the five meetings against Milwaukee during the regular season, though the teams have since made roster changes. The series is expected to feature a fast-paced, high-scoring matchup, with the Bucks preparing for the Pacers' up-tempo offense that has given them trouble in the past.

Key Takeaways

  • Bucks face uncertainty over Antetokounmpo, Lillard availability for playoffs vs. Pacers
  • Antetokounmpo doubtful for Game 1 due to calf strain, recovery could take weeks
  • Lillard fully practiced, confident in playing despite sore adductor and Achilles
  • Bucks went 4-6 without Antetokounmpo, dropped to 3rd seed in East
  • Pacers slight favorites, won 4 of 5 regular-season meetings with high-scoring Bucks