With neither Trae Young nor Giannis Antetokounmpo available for Game 5, the fact the Bucks had the two best players on the court — Olympians Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton — became quickly evident as Milwaukee took charge from the start and moved within a game of the NBA Finals.
The Hawks may get Young back for its must-win Game 6 at home, but the Bucks are unlikely to have Antetokounmpo.
The teams made their required injury announcements a day before Game 6, and the Hawks have listed Young as questionable with a bone bruise in his right foot.
An @emoryhealthcare injury report for tomorrow’s game vs. Milwaukee:
Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee soreness): Probable
Trae Young (right foot bone bruise: Questionable
Brandon Goodwin (minor respiratory condition): Out
De’Andre Hunter (right meniscus surgery): Out pic.twitter.com/5sF8hNyENw
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) July 2, 2021
Young did take the court to take some jump shots and workout a little prior to Game 5, and according to reports moved okay, but he and the team medical staff did not feel Young could play. Nate McMillan said Friday that Young would decide if he was healthy and pain free enough to play before Game 6.
There is optimism around the Hawks that Young will return. They need him. The offense stalls out without him — it has been 17.8 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court this series. Lou Williams has filled in with quality efforts — he had 21 in Game 4 — but the Hawks are not the same without Young.
Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful for Game 6 with what the Bucks continue to call a hyperextended left knee.
Injury Status Update:
Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful (hyperextended left knee) for Game 6.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 2, 2021
A hyperextension is when a joint bends outside its normal range of motion — which Antetokounmpo’s definitely did when he landed wrong in the third quarter of Game 5. However, a hyperextension is not an injury, it leads to injuries that can range from a bone bruise to torn ligaments. Reports came out there is no structural damage in Antetokounmpo’s knee — which is the best news possible — but the injury itself has yet to be described. While most speculation has been he would not be back this series or postseason, it is possible he could play in a Game 7 if it comes to that.
There’s belief Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) would be given the green light for a potential Game 7 if Hawks avoid elimination in Game 6 on Saturday, league sources tell @YahooSports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 2, 2021
Without him in Game 5, the Bucks played like the bigger team and dominated in the paint. Even if Young returns for Game 6, Milwaukee should use its size advantage to score plenty in the paint and cause problems for the Hawks’ defense. The question becomes, does Young’s return (if it happens) boost the Hawks’ offense enough that they can outscore the Bucks, essentially trading Milwaukee’s twos for Atlanta’s threes?
The Hawks need the answer to that question to be yes, or they will be on vacation for the summer.