Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo remains out for Game 2 of series against Pacers with calf strain

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts from the bench in front of Indiana Pacers' Obi Toppin during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA playoff basketball game Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out Game 2 of the Milwaukee Bucks' Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night because of a lingering left calf strain.

The two-time MVP also missed Game 1 and the Bucks' last three regular-season games.

“(He) shot today, was on the floor a bunch,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said during his pregame media session. “He’s getting closer.”

Game 3 is Friday at Indianapolis.

Antetokounmpo was struggling to run up the court in the third quarter of an April 9 victory over the Boston Celtics when he grabbed his left calf and took a seat on the floor before eventually heading to the locker room. An MRI revealed the muscle strain.

Antetokounmpo hasn’t played since.

The Bucks have gone 6-5 in the games Antetokounmpo has missed this season, including a 109-94 Game 1 victory over the Pacers on Sunday night. Damian Lillard picked up the slack by scoring 35 points, all in the first half.

Antetokounmpo has dealt with injuries in the postseason before.

He missed the final 1 1/2 games of a 2020 second-round loss to Miami with a sprained ankle. He sat out the final two games of the 2021 Eastern Conference finals with a hyperextended knee, but he returned to lead the Bucks to their first championship since 1971 and was named Finals MVP after scoring 50 points in a title-clinching Game 6 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Last year, a bruised lower back forced Antetokounmpo out of Game 1 and caused him to miss the next two games in the Bucks’ first-round loss to Miami.