Giannis ‘Greek Freak’ Antetokounmpo Could Miss NBA All-Star Game
Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo sustained a right wrist injury against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night and exited the game in the first half. Even without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks still held off the Bulls to extend their winning streak to 12 victories in a row.
The freakish injury occurred in the second quarter after Antetokounmpo attempted a blocked shot, but collided with a stanchion. He quickly left the court and didn’t return to the game. X-rays were negative, and Antetokounmpo was diagnosed with a sprained wrist.
We’ll just see how he feels tomorrow, see how he feels the next few days and continue to evaluate it,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Antetokounmpo played only nine minutes prior to his injury. He scored only two points, but hauled down seven rebounds and dished three assists.
There’s a good chance that Antetokounmpo skips the upcoming 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend in order to preserve his health for a championship run.
Have to hope Giannis’ wrist/hand is okay after this pic.twitter.com/xPBroLtViA
— Lily Zhao (@LilySZhao) February 17, 2023
NBA Skills Competition in Doubt for Greek Freak
The 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend takes place at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah starting Friday. The wrist injury could prevent Antetokounmpo from playing in the actual NBA All-Star Game, and he could miss the NBA Kia Skills Competition.
Fans voted Antetokounmpo in as an NBA All-Star Game captain representing the Eastern Conference. LeBron James from the Los Angeles Lakers is the other captain, repping the Western Conference. As captains, James and Antetokounmpo will draft teams prior to the All-Star Game on Sunday.
Antetokounmpo was slated to play for Team Antetokounmpo with both of his brothers, Alex and Thanasis, in the skills competition on Saturday.
If Antetokounmpo is unable to play, it’s unknown if the NBA has a contingency plan to find a replacement. His younger brother, Kostas, currently plays pro ball overseas in Turkey. It’s unknown if he can fly to Salt Lake City in time to fill in for his older brother.
In the skills competition, the Antetokounmpos will battle teams representing the host city and rookies. Three members of the Utah Jazz — Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and Walker Kessler — are participating for Team Jazz as the host city. Team Rooks includes Paolo Banchero (Orlando Magic), Jabari Smith, Jr. (Houston Rockets), and Jaden Ivey (Detroit Pistons).
All sportsbooks pulled the NBA Skills Competition off the betting board until they get an update on Antetokounmpo. Before the injury, Team Antetokounmpo were long shots at DraftKings to win the skills competition at +475 odds. Team Jazz was the initial favorite at -120, and Team Rooks was +140.
Bucks Extend Winning Streak to 12 Straight
The Bucks head into the All-Star break riding high on a 12-game winning streak. With a 41-17 record, the Bucks trail the first-place Boston Celtics (42-17) by a half-game in the Eastern Conference standings.
As the top two teams in the East, the Celtics and Bucks will battle each other in the final quarter of the season for the #1 seed in the playoffs. The Bucks defeated the Celtics on Tuesday in an overtime thriller.
Even without Antetokounmpo for the majority of Thursday night’s game against the Bulls, the Bucks pulled off a 112-100 victory. Bucks center Brook Lopez led all scorers with 33 points.
It feels good,” said guard Jrue Holiday. “We have the confidence, we have the rhythm, hopefully we can keep it coming out of the break.”
The Chicago Bulls (26-33) continued their losing streak and head into the break with six losses in a row.
The Bucks are +600 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship as the third-highest favorite on DraftKings’ futures board, sitting behind the Celtics (+275) and Phoenix Suns (+425).
The Celtics are +115 odds to win the Eastern Conference in back-to-back seasons. The Bucks are +240 odds to win the conference and return to the NBA Finals for the second time in three seasons.
Antetokounmpo averages 31.8 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game this season. He’s the NBA’s second-best rebounder and third overall in scoring.
Antetokounmpo is the third favorite to win the MVP on the NBA awards board at +700 odds. Two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets is the consensus favorite at -250 odds, followed by Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers at +425 odds.
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