Bucks news: Giannis Antetokounmpo (back) doubtful vs. Hawks
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Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (back) downgraded to doubtful vs. Hawks

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks, Hawks

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo had previously been listed as probable for Friday night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks due to a sore back, but now he has been downgraded to doubtful, according to the NBA’s official injury report.

The Bucks are playing a back-to-back this weekend, with the second game coming against the Orlando Magic on Saturday. Given Friday’s opponent, sitting Antetokounmpo makes sense. There’s no reason to push the reigning MVP at this point, especially against a 6-25 Hawks team.

Giannis was dealing with the sore back during Milwaukee’s 121-109 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day. He had his worst game of the season, notching 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists while shooting a woeful 8-of-27 from the field. He also missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

While Joel Embiid and the Sixers deserve a lot of credit for their defense, one has to wonder how much this back injury was bothering The Greek Freak. It was such an uncharacteristic performance for the 25-year-old star, who’s having a historic season. He’s averaging 30.5 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists while shooting 55.4% overall and 32.7% on 3-pointers.

The Bucks should be able to take care of business against the Hawks even without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe, who has been out with a leg injury. Khris Middleton and a deep roster can make up for these absences against the team with the worst record in the league.

Milwaukee is 27-5, which is the best record in the NBA.