PHOENIX (AP) — In the most important games of this NBA season, COVID-19 continues to make its impact felt.
The Milwaukee Bucks will be without reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols before Game 5 of the finals on Sunday (PHT). The NBA also announced that Sean Wright wouldn’t be able to officiate due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
Wright was replaced by James Williams.
The loss of Antetokounmpo doesn’t have an impact on the Bucks rotation; he has played 45 minutes in 13 playoff games. The main concern is whether Thanasis’ absence will impact his brother, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The siblings are very close.
“Certainly those two guys’ connection and the closeness, everybody knows it,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “But you know, I think we’re all good. We’re all ready. Ready to go.”
The 28-year-old has played just once during the Finals, a 93-second appearance in Milwaukee’s Game 3 blowout win. The older brother to Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis is concluding his second season with Milwaukee. He was originally drafted 51st overall in 2014 by the New York Knicks.
Budenholzer also said that the Bucks won’t have a full staff on the bench for Game 5, though he didn’t specify who would miss the game.
The NBA is trying to get through the finals without a major COVID-19 outbreak as cases are rising throughout most of the country and the world. Suns point guard Chris Paul missed the first two games of the Western Conference finals against the LA Clippers because he was in the league’s protocol.
“I think the health and safety protocols are on the front of everybody’s minds right now,” Budenholzer said. “I think we’re in a good place and ready to go.”
The older brother to Giannis Antetokounmpo will not suit up for the surging Bucks in Game 5 of the Finals.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo shoots the ball against the Phoenix Suns during Game 3 of the 2021 Finals.