When Giannis Antetokounmpo felt his knee hyperextend in Game 4 against the Hawks, he thought what everyone who saw the clip did: He’s not just out for the playoffs, he’s going to miss a lot of next season, too.
“I haven’t watched the clip, but when the play happened, I thought I’m going to be out for a year, you know,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m just happy that two games later, I’m back.”
It borders on shocking he was back, but Antetokounmpo played well in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He finished with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and while he looked gassed at points after a week off, this was as much as Milwaukee could have hoped for. His strength was back and Antetokounmpo looked like himself.
— NBA (@NBA) July 7, 2021
Antetokounmpo was fairly open with the media after the game, the first time he spoke to the press in any detail after the injury.
“I’m just happy, man. I went down, I thought I’m going to be out for the year. I thought I’m gone,” Antetokounmpo said. “I thought I’d turn… I’d hurt everything in my knee… Obviously, my competitive side will want to play, but at the end of the day you’ve always got to find the positive things in everything that you go through in order for to you move forward.”
Antetokounmpo admitted that he didn’t believe he could be back quickly until the MRI showed no structural damage.
“I probably say until the next day, I couldn’t walk probably, and my knee was like double the size,” Antetokounmpo said of when he realized it wasn’t as bad as feared. “Usually I never swell up. But you know, I woke up the next day, did whatever it’s called, MRI or X-ray, I don’t know what it’s called and they said I’m good. And I was like, “Thank God.”
Antetokounmpo said he expects to play in Game 2, although it depends upon how his knee responds to all the activity. Either way, he is in a lot better shape than he thought he was when the injury happened.