LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was ruled out of Sunday’s Game 4 of his team’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat after aggravating a sprained right ankle.
Antetokounmpo was driving to the basket with 10:18 left in the second quarter, trying to get past Miami’s Andre Iguodala. He went down and screamed in pain as he grabbed at the ankle, and it didn’t take long for most of those on the Bucks’ bench to gather around him in concern.
Antetokounmpo eventually went to the bench, then went back onto the court to shoot his free throws. He had to take them to have any chance of being able to return to the game, per NBA rules.
In the end, it didn’t matter: The Bucks announced at halftime that Antetokounmpo would not return to the game. He finished with 19 points in 12 minutes.
The Bucks went into Sunday down 3-0 in the series and facing elimination. Antetokounmpo scored 18 of Milwaukee’s first 26 points in Game 4, shooting 8 for 10 from the field before getting hurt.
Antetokounmpo originally turned the ankle inward on a drive in the first quarter of Game 3 of the series on Friday night. He finished with 21 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists in 35 minutes, but he shot just 7 for 21 from the field and missed all seven of his 3-point tries.
Antetokounmpo insisted after Game 3 that the ankle did not bother him during the game.
He is widely expected to win the MVP award for a second consecutive season after averaging 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists. In the opening round of the playoffs against Orlando, Antetokounmpo averaged 30.6 points, 16 rebounds and six assists on 59% shooting from the floor and 39% from 3-point range.
But in the first three games of the series against the Heat, his offensive numbers cooled off considerably. He averaged 22.7 points, 13.3 rebounds and seven assists — shooting only 45% from the field and 15% from beyond the 3-point arc.
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