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Why is Giannis Antetokounmpo not playing? Bucks star sits out during team’s game against Hawks

giannis antetokounmpo speaks to the media
Milwaukee’s Greek Freak sat out Friday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. Pic credit: NBA on ESPN/YouTube

The Milwaukee Bucks were without the reigning NBA MVP for Friday night’s game in Atlanta. Giannis Antetokounmpo had to sit this one out leading fans to wonder if he’s dealing with a major injury.

Here are more details about why Antetokounmpo isn’t playing.

Greek Freak’s injury situation in Atlanta

On Thursday, the Greek Freak was “probable” to play. However, ahead of Friday’s matchup with one of the league’s worst team’s record-wise, Antetokounmpo was listed as doubtful due to a sore back. Once the game arrived, it was official. The Milwaukee Bucks opted to rest their superstar to prevent any further injury to his back.

Antetokounmpo was still smiling as he watched from the sidelines and provided his team support for their latest game.

While it had fans concerned about why he was sidelined, the Milwaukee Bucks appeared to be fine without him. As of this report, the Bucks were up 63-40 at halftime. Fellow 2019 All-Star Kris Middleton was leading the way with 18 points, six assists, and six rebounds.

How serious is Antetokounmpo’s back injury?

In a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Matt Velazquez, it was noted that ahead of the Christmas Day game versus the 76ers, Antetokounmpo would stop to “grimace and twist his body” as he attempted to stretch out his back muscles. His head coach Mike Budenholzer talked to the media about the situation ahead of the game against Atlanta.

“His back is something I guess would be in that category of something we manage and keep our eyes on,” Budenholzer said ahead of the game on Friday. “Sometimes it flares up and today it’s enough that he can’t play. But hopeful it’s not anything that’s significant even though it’s something that we kind of monitor on a regular basis.”

So far this season, Antetokounmpo is averaging 30.5 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. The Milwaukee Bucks are currently 27-5 ahead of the outcome of the game versus the Hawks. While they dropped their Christmas matchup in Philadelphia, they’re still 3 1/2 games ahead of Boston for first place in the East.

The good news is that this appears to not be too serious and that it’s merely resting him in the first game of a back-to-back situation. The Bucks host the Orlando Magic on Saturday starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Matt Couden


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