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Bucks Triumph in Game 1 Opener Sans Giannis, Overcome Pacers in Playoff Debut



Domain Lillards

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two time MVP, missed the Bucks Triumph’ 109-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 on Sunday night.

Antetokounmpo hasn’t hit the court since April 9, opting out of Milwaukee’s last three regular season matchups due to a calf strain.

The Bucks Triumph are holding onto hope that the treatment Antetokounmpo is undergoing for his injury. It will pave the way for his comeback later in the series, as per sources revealed to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. On the other hand, Coach Doc Rivers expressed his uncertainty, stating that he still lacks clarity on when Antetokounmpo might be ready to return.

Before Game 1, Rivers emphasized the team’s approach, saying, We prepare with what’s on the floor. He acknowledged Antetokounmpo’s efforts in training, mentioning, Giannis has done a lot of work. He’s shooting, he’s running again, he looks good, but he hasn’t been able to participate.


Antetokounmpo finds himself sidelined from playoff action for the second consecutive season due to injuries. Last year, he endured a back injury during Game 1 of the 2023 playoffs. It is forcing him to miss the subsequent two matchups against the Miami Heat. Although he made a comeback for Game 4, the Bucks Triumph couldn’t turn the tide. Ultimately losing the series in five games.

Antetokounmpo showcased dominance in Milwaukee’s regular season clashes with Indiana. Averaging an impressive 42.2 points and 13 rebounds across five matchups. Notably, he etched his name in franchise history by dropping a staggering 64 points in the Bucks Triumph’ lone victory against the Pacers.

During the regular season, the Bucks Triumph faced a 4-5 record in games where Antetokounmpo was absent from the lineup.

Rivers emphasized the team’s preparation ahead of Sunday’s game, stating. We’ve really prepared this week with what we’ve had.


The Milwaukee Bucks kicked off their playoff journey on Sunday without their star player. Giannis Antetokounmpo, sidelined due to a left calf strain that kept him out of the team’s final three regular-season games.

Bucks coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Antetokounmpo would miss Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers. Antetokounmpo had been listed as doubtful for Sunday night’s game.

While Rivers noted that Antetokounmpo’s condition had improved, he didn’t provide a clear timeline for his return. Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday in Milwaukee.

“We prepare with what’s on the floor,” Rivers stated. “Giannis has done a lot of work. He’s shooting. He’s running again. He looks good. But he hasn’t been able to participate, so we really prepared this week with what we have.”


Antetokounmpo had an outstanding performance against the Pacers during the regular season, averaging 42.2 points, 13 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Notably, he set a franchise record by scoring 64 points in Milwaukee’s sole victory over Indiana.

The injury occurred during a game against the Boston Celtics on April 9, when Antetokounmpo struggled to run up the court in the third quarter. After grabbing his left calf and taking a seat, he eventually headed to the locker room. An MRI later confirmed the muscle strain.

Lillard’s 35-Point First Half Sparks Bucks’ Game 1 Victory:

Milwaukee Bucks’ Damian Lillard grabs a rebound in front of Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton during the second half of Game 1 of the first round NBA playoff basketball.
Milwaukee Bucks’ Damian Lillard grabs a rebound in front of Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton during the second half of Game 1 of the first round NBA playoff basketball.

As the first quarter drew to a close in Game 1, Bucks’ point guard Damian Lillard showcased his prowess with a stunning move. With a swift crossover, he created space and executed a step-back 28-foot 3-pointer, reminiscent of his signature style. The shot sailed past the outstretched hand of Pacers guard T.J. McConnell as the buzzer sounded, igniting cheers from the sold-out crowd at Fiserv Forum. Basking in the adulation, Lillard trotted down the court.

The public address announcer’s question, “What time is it?” was met with a resounding reply from the crowd. “Dame Time!” Lillard, visibly pumped, beat his chest and declared to the fans. “This is what y’all brought me here for.”

With two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined due to a calf strain, Lillard shouldered the responsibility. Leading the Bucks to a commanding 109-94 victory over the Pacers in Game 1 of their playoff series. Lillard’s incredible performance saw him tally 35 points, all in the first half, providing Milwaukee with a halftime lead that proved insurmountable.


“In the playoffs, it’s about setting the tone,” Lillard remarked. “We’re going to see this team a lot of times, and you want to establish yourself, especially on your home floor. That was my mentality, to come out and try and set the tone in that way.”

Lillard’s first-half scoring spree ranked as the second-highest total by any player in the opening half of an NBA playoff game in the last 25 years, trailing only Kevin Durant’s 38 points in 2019. His performance also marked a playoff career high for points in a half, surpassing any Bucks player’s first-half scoring since Antetokounmpo in the 2021 NBA Finals.

“He carried us,” praised Bucks coach Doc Rivers. “He was unbelievable.”

Despite Lillard going scoreless in the second half as the Pacers focused on containing him, his teammates rose to the occasion. Khris Middleton contributed 23 points on efficient shooting, while Bobby Portis provided a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.


Reflecting on Lillard’s impact, Middleton remarked, “I’ve seen that on television a lot. He came out, threw the first punch and really got us off to a great start with a lead that lasted the whole game.”

Lillard’s exceptional performance nearly matched the Pacers’ first-half total of 42 points. The Pacers, known for their offensive efficiency during the regular season. It is struggled to find their rhythm, missing their first 12 3-point attempts, and recording their lowest scoring half of the season.

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