Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was cleared by the NBA’s concussion protocol on Wednesday and will be available to play against the Boston Celtics on Thursday.
Antetokounmpo has been posting MVP-esque numbers in the early going, with over 25 points and 14 rebounds per game. His shot is still a work in progress, but his physical gifts and the improvements he has made over the last few years have rendered that point essentially moot.
The Celtics defended Antetokounmpo well during the postseason, using Al Horford primarily but often pitting Aron Baynes’ size and strength against the sheer force of Antetokounmpo charging down the lane. That strategy worked well enough to propel the Celtics into the second round, but it did lead to Baynes getting dunked on, and the Bucks did push the Celtics to seven games. With new coach Mike Budenholzer and a better system in place, Milwaukee quietly has morphed into an Eastern Conference contender. That makes Thursday’s game a great test for a surging Celtics squad.
The Celtics, however, might be without Jaylen Brown. According to Celtics PR, Brown is questionable with a sore foot. Brown averaged 20.5 points per game in the first six games of last year’s series against Milwaukee before pulling his hamstring in Game 7.
In either case, both the Bucks and the Celtics can likely look at Thursday’s game as a bit of a measuring stick in the early going.