Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo Enters Health and Safety Protocols, Out vs. Pacers

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) brings the ball upcourt during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The Milwaukee Bucks will be without their best player for Wednesday's game against the Indiana Pacers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was placed in the NBA's health and safety protocols Tuesday and will miss the contest. Antetokounmpo previously told reporters he was vaccinated against COVID-19, so he will, in theory, face an easier path to eventually return to the court.

Later Tuesday, teammate Donte DiVincienzo also entered the protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. 

As concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 dominate headlines, sports have been far from immune from pandemic-related setbacks of late.

The NBA postponed multiple Chicago Bulls games with 10 players entering health and safety protocols, and the NHL announced Calgary Flames games were postponed through at least Thursday with six players and one staff member entering protocols.

What's more, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday the NFL saw 75 players test positive in the last two days alone.

Multiple executives around the NBA told ESPN's Baxter Holmes they expect positive cases to increase around the holidays as players and team employees gather indoors. One Western Conference general manager said "most of us consider it a matter of when, not if" the Omicron variant will spread through the league.

As for the Bucks, losing Antetokounmpo for any amount of time would clearly be a significant setback given his overall importance to the team.

The two-time MVP is averaging 27.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game this season for the reigning champions. His individual brilliance is a major reason the Bucks are on the short list of realistic championship contenders again in 2021-22.

Milwaukee did at least receive some positive news Tuesday.

Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported Khris Middleton is questionable for Wednesday's game because of a hyperextended left knee following "a favorable review of the injury." He will likely be the go-to option with Giannis sidelined if he is able to play.