3 Milwaukee Bucks that must step up after Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury

Jun 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis, Khris Middleton, Atlanta Hawks: Kevin Huerter
Jun 27, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks are currently locked in a tight battle with the Atlanta Hawks in these Eastern Conference Finals.

With the series knotted 2-2 heading back to Milwaukee for Game 5, the Bucks face a tall order ahead as they are two games away from reaching the NBA Finals. Yet, their chances took a hit during Tuesday’s Game 3 loss as Giannis Antetokounmpo took a frightening fall in the third quarter and hyperextended his knee. However, as gruesome as it appeared, results from an MRI taken yesterday revealed that Antetokounmpo suffered no structural damage.

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Although the team’s official injury report lists Giannis as “doubtful” for tonight’s game – which is miraculous in itself – it is rather clear that he will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. Yet, that certainly does not mean that Bucks are willing to lie down and die for the remainder of the series. On the contrary, this team understands that they are just two wins away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in nearly five decades, and they will look to keep the ship afloat.

To do so, they will need inspiring performances from several key members of this roster to step up in place of the injured Antetokounmpo. With that being said, here are three players that must have a massive impact in tonight’s Game 5 and beyond in the likely absence of Giannis.

Milwaukee Bucks that must step up following Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury: Bobby Portis

With Milwaukee’s power forward vacancy opening up, Bobby Portis will likely get the nod in the starting lineup. The big man started in place of Antetokounmpo several times during the regular season when he missed time, and this situation could force that hand once more.

Portis has given the Bucks solid production off the bench in these past four games by averaging 10.3 points while shooting 18-of-36 (50 percent) from the field. Putting up the fourth-most points on average among any Buck in the series, it is safe to say that he is making his impact felt with his scoring touch in the second unit. He has also been rebounding the ball well by hauling in 22 over the first four games.

However, with the 26-year-old set to take on a bigger role, they will need him to increase his production further. One specific area where he has struggled is his outside shooting, as he has shot just  4-of-13 (30.8 percent) to this point. After boasting the fourth-best percentage from deep across the association during the regular season, the red-hot shooting has regressed mightily from Portis, and it has hurt the Bucks. If it could regain that shooting stroke and knock down some triples, in addition to scoring from everywhere else on the floor as he does, it would be a sizeable boost.

Another area that the Bucks will need from Portis is his energy. They have looked unmotivated to start the last two games in this series, and Portis – known for his widespread energy and hustle – could inject a much-needed boost of tenacity into this starting unit. This team surely needs it after abysmal starts in consecutive games, and Portis could help them establish an immediate sense of urgency from the opening tip.