Giannis Antetokounmpo to return as Bucks test Clippers

giannis antetokounmpo bucks

FILE – Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks during the second half of a game against the LA Clippers at Fiserv Forum on February 28, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Stacy Revere / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The battered and beaten-up Milwaukee Bucks will have their standouts back on the floor when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.

Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is slated to return from a one-game absence due to his nagging left knee injury. Antetokounmpo was one of four starters to miss Saturday’s 102-96 home loss to the New York Knicks.

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Khris Middleton (hip), Jrue Holiday (knee) and Donte DiVincenzo (foot) also are slated to be back in the lineup as Milwaukee aims to halt a two-game slide that follows a season-best eight-game winning streak.

Key reserves P.J. Tucker (calf) and Bobby Portis (health and safety protocols) have been ruled out.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was impressed that his club was able to stay close to the Knicks while missing six members of the rotation.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo — older brother of Giannis — led Milwaukee with a career-high 23 points, and rookie Jordan Nwora added a season-best 21 in his first start.

“I think their competitiveness was really good, their togetherness,” Budenholzer said afterward. “We worked defensively, found ways to get things done offensively. A lot of positives. Of course, we’d like to win, but the way they competed, that’s what we want to be about.”

The game against the Clippers opens stretch a stretch of six straight road games and nine of 10 for Milwaukee.

The Bucks are looking to defeat the Clippers for the fifth straight time.

Milwaukee posted a 105-100 home win over Los Angeles on Feb. 28 when Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 36 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots.

Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, who enter the game against the Bucks having won five straight games by an average of 18.4 points.

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Los Angeles began a stretch of nine consecutive home games with a 122-112 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. The Clippers don’t play on the road again until April 13.

Leonard returned from a one-game absence due to a foot injury to score 28 points. He also posted three steals to raise his career total to 1,001.

The Clippers also received a strong effort from the second-year pro Terance Mann, who scored a season-best 23 points. It is part of a pattern in which Mann has averaged 15.4 points and 7.2 rebounds over the past five games.

The 24-year-old guard will continue to get solid playing time after the trade of Lou Williams to the Atlanta Hawks. Also affording him playing time is the knee injury that will cause point guard Patrick Beverley to miss his ninth straight game.

“Everyone has been on the same page and asking me to be more aggressive,” Mann said after Saturday’s win. “Over time you begin to see things different, stuff slows down and you develop.”

It wasn’t clear whether veteran point guard Rajon Rondo (groin) — acquired in the Williams deal — will be available Monday night, so coach Tyronn Lue was cautious when discussing Mann’s minutes.

“Right now, I like where we are at, and we are in a good rhythm,” Lue said. “We will have to see and keep playing with the rotations when they get back.”

Paul George scored 24 points against the 76ers and has topped 20 in four of the past six games.

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