Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard 'very close' to returning from injury, Doc Rivers says

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MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks kept their season alive with a 115-92 win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, and now the cavalry may be on the way. During his post-game press conference, Bucks coach Doc Rivers was asked about the status of injured stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. 

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Rivers said. “I know I hope [to have them on the floor again in the series]. I think they’re very, very, very close.”

Antetokounmpo has not played at all in the playoffs due to a calf strain he suffered on April 9 in one of the team’s final regular-season games. The Bucks have never announced an official timeline, though Shams Charania reported it would take two to four weeks to get him back on the court. Game 6 on Thursday would be just past the three-week mark. 

Lillard, meanwhile, re-aggravated an Achilles injury in the closing seconds of regulation in Game 3 and has missed the last two games. The Bucks have declined to announce any sort of timeline for Lillard either, though it’s worth noting that a sore Achilles had kept him off the practice court for multiple days in the lead-up to the series. 

Prior to the Bucks’ season-saving win in Game 5, Rivers sounded much less optimistic about his star duo. 

“[Antetokounmpo] didn’t do a lot [at shootaround],” Rivers said during his pre-game press conference. “Did some shooting again. Did more after I left, but I didn’t see it. Dame didn’t do anything.” Lillard did later take the court just before the game for a light shooting session. 

Due to the lack of clarity throughout this process, and the nature of these specific injuries, it’s impossible to predict with any sort of confidence whether Antetokounmpo or Lillard will be available for Game 6. 

While the Bucks would obviously prefer to have their two best players back, they’ve shown they can hang with the Pacers regardless. They were right there for much of Game 4 before running out of steam in the second half and cruised to a comfortable win in Game 5. 

Whether Milwaukee’s role players can summon another such performance in a must-win game on the road remains to be seen, but it’s clear the Bucks are not going down without a fight. 

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