Giannis doubtful, Morant questionable heading into Wednesday

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Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant ices his right hand at the end of NBA basketball practice Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Morant had an MRI that showed no ligament damage after he landed awkwardly on his right hand in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 in the first round of the playoffs Sunday. Coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant is a game-time decision dealing with soft tissue bruising between the bones. (AP Photo/Teresa M. Walker)

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies aren’t saying whether their star players will be available Wednesday night as both teams try to avoid falling into 0-2 holes before hitting the road in their respective first-round series.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Memphis’ Ja Morant both exited their series openers Sunday after getting hurt on drives to the basket, with Antetokounmpo bruising his lower back and Morant aggravating an already injured right hand.

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Antetokounmpo didn’t practice Tuesday, but the Bucks haven’t ruled out the possibility the two-time MVP could play Wednesday in Game 2 against the Miami Heat. The Grizzlies called Morant a game-time decision against the Los Angeles Lakers after an MRI revealed no ligament damage.

An injury report released Tuesday listed Antetokounmpo as doubtful and Morant as questionable.

“We have 24-plus hours before game time, so he’ll get treatment,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ll see how he feels. I think there’s been a lot of progress. Hopefully there’s more in the next day or so.”

During the portion of Tuesday’s Grizzlies practice open to reporters, Morant didn't use his right hand at all. He used his left hand to help rebound and put up a couple of shots. He finished the session with a bag of ice wrapped over his right hand.

“Symptoms are slightly improving from the other night. ... He’s going to come in and get working in the morning and test it out, see how is feeling," Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said.

Antetokounmpo has a history of making rapid recoveries from injuries.

The most notable example came two years ago during the Bucks’ championship run. Antetokounmpo hyperextended his right knee during the Eastern Conference finals and missed the final two games of the Bucks’ 4-2 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, but he was named the MVP of the NBA Finals after averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and five assists in the 4-2 triumph over the Phoenix Suns, including a 50-point performance in the title-clinching win.

This season, Antetokounmpo sprained his right wrist just before the All-Star break but was back in the starting lineup for the Bucks’ next game, just four days after heading to New York to have the wrist examined.

“I would say we’re optimistic,” Budenholzer said.

Both teams have shown they can bounce back from losses in series openers.

The Grizzlies fell behind 1-0 in their first-round series with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year before winning in six games. The Bucks have lost Game 1 six previous times during Budenholzer’s tenure and won five of those series.

“I’m not necessarily saying that you’re going to fight back all the time, but I think it kind of tests you in a different way,” Bucks forward Bobby Portis said. “Sometimes those tests can be good for a team.”


Los Angeles leads 1-0. Game 2, 7:30 p.m. EDT, TNT

— NEED TO KNOW: The Lakers got big performances from Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves to win the series opener at Memphis, which had the NBA’s best regular-season home record at 35-6. Hachimura had a playoff career-high 29 points. Reaves had 23, including nine in the closing minutes. Anthony Davis had 22 points and LeBron James 21, marking the first time since 1988 that the Lakers had four 20-point scorers in a single playoff game.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Rebound margin. The Lakers outrebounded the Grizzlies 45-34 and outscored them 22-10 in second-chance points in Game 1. The absence of Steven Adams due to a knee injury and key reserve Brandon Clarke with a torn Achilles leaves the Grizzlies with a lack of size.

— INJURY WATCH: Morant’s status obviously is critical. Davis hurt his right shoulder but missed only the final 75 seconds of the second quarter with the stinger.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Grizzlies guard Luke Kennard. After leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (.494) for a second straight season, Kennard was just 1 of 4 from beyond the arc in Game 1. The Grizzlies need more from him.


Miami leads 1-0. Game 2, 9 p.m. EDT, NBATV

— NEED TO KNOW: Jimmy Butler had 35 points and the Heat set a playoff franchise single-game scoring record in a 130-117 Game 1 victory over the Bucks on Sunday. The Heat are trying to stage a repeat of the 2020 postseason, when they took an early 3-0 lead over a top-seeded Milwaukee team and went on to eliminate the Bucks 4-1 in the second round. The Bucks have lost Game 1 six previous times during Mike Budenholzer’s tenure and won five of those series.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Miami’s shooting. The Heat ranked 26th in the NBA in field-goal percentage (.460) and 27th in 3-point percentage (.344) during the regular season, but they shot 59.5% (50 of 84) from the floor and 60% (15 of 25) from 3-point range in Game 1.

— INJURY WATCH: Antetokounmpo wasn’t the only notable player to get injured in Game 1. Miami’s Tyler Herro broke his right hand while diving for a loose ball late in the first half. He probably won’t play again this season unless the Heat reach the NBA Finals. ... Milwaukee's Wesley Matthews, who played 18 minutes in Game 1, has been ruled out for Wednesday due to a strained right calf.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Bucks guard Jrue Holiday. Although Holiday had 16 points and 16 assists in Game 1, he shot just 6 of 18 from the floor and 2 of 9 from 3-point range. The Bucks will need Holiday and Khris Middleton, who had 33 points in Game 1, to shoulder more of the scoring load if they don’t have Antetokounmpo.


Denver leads 1-0. Game 2, 10 p.m. EDT, TNT

— NEED TO KNOW: Jamal Murray had 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Nuggets rolled to a 109-80 Game 1 victory over the Timberwolves on Sunday. That puts some pressure on the Timberwolves, who have never won a series after falling behind 2-0.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Denver’s defense. The Nuggets held the Timberwolves to their lowest point total of the season Sunday.

— INJURY WATCH: Jaden McDaniels is Minnesota’s best perimeter defender, but he broke his right hand punching a wall in the Timberwolves’ final regular-season game. His presence was missed as the Timberwolves allowed Denver to make 16 3-point baskets Sunday. … Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has been dealing with back trouble, though he still played in Game 1.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns. He shot 5 of 15 overall and 1 of 7 from 3-point range in Game 1. He had nearly as many turnovers (four) as baskets (five).


AP Sports Writers Arnie Stapleton and Teresa M. Walker contributed to this report.


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