The biggest on court drama heading into Game 1 of the NBA Finals was the health status of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals after hyperextending his knee in Game 4 in Atlanta. The Bucks picked up wins in both of those games, riding strong performances from Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, as well as major contributions from Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis to step up to fill the frontcourt void left by the two-time MVP.
Still, for Bucks fans to feel good about their status in this series, they will want Giannis on the court sooner than later to do battle with the red-hot Phoenix Suns. On Monday, Antetokounmpo was listed as doubtful, with Mike Budenholzer saying he’s making progress but still had to clear a number of hurdles and tests to get cleared to play again. On Tuesday afternoon following shootaround, however, Antetokounmpo was upgraded from doubtful to questionable, leading to plenty of speculation that the superstar could try and play in Game 1.
A bit ahead of tip-off, word emerged that Giannis would play in Game 1. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports had it first, with Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN confirming.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) will play tonight in Game 1 of The Finals against the Phoenix Suns, league sources tell @YahooSports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 7, 2021
Sources: Giannis Antetokounmpo will play in Game 1 of Bucks-Suns.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 7, 2021
Giannis is a go for Game 1 of the NBA Finals, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 7, 2021
Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals tips off at 9 p.m. EST on ABC.