Giannis Antetokounmpo Downplays Ankle Injury After Not Returning vs. Clippers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 26:  Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks sits on the bench during a game against the Houston Rockets at Fiserv Forum on March 26, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo attempted to ease the fears of fans after he exited Thursday's 128-118 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers with an ankle injury.

Antetokounmpo acknowledged that his right ankle is less than 100 percent but that he plans on staying in the lineup for Milwaukee.

"Usually when you sprain your ankle, you stay out for two, three, four games," he told reporters, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). "But I don't like missing games. I've got to work through it while playing. I'll be ready to play until coach [Mike Budenholzer] tells me not to play."

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

“I’m definitely working on it on a daily basis trying to get it healthy, stronger... I have to work through it while playing and try to get my strength back." Giannis on his ankle: https://t.co/kj0tsZykcY

The Bucks will obviously want Antetokounmpo on the court to help lock up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they have a fairly healthy cushion on the Toronto Raptors (four games) with only six games left on their schedule.

If need be, resting Antetokounmpo for a night or two would be sensible if it helps his ankle heal a bit before the playoffs.

Milwaukee is already without Malcolm Brogdon, who suffered minor plantar fascia tear earlier this month. ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews reported Brogdon could miss six to eight weeks, which would potentially jeopardize his availability for the start of the postseason.

Wojnarowski and Andrews also reported Donte DiVincenzo will miss the playoffs with a foot injury.

The Bucks can get by without DiVincenzo, who has provided nice depth but isn't a key player for the team. Brogdon is much more valuable, as he can ease some of the scoring burden on Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton while providing excellent perimeter defense.

Of course, those two pale in comparison to Antetokounmpo, who is in a tight race with James Harden for MVP. His ankle injury could present a big problem for the Bucks if it continues to linger over the next few weeks.