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Giannis Antetokounmpo will not play vs. Nets

Nets, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo will not play in his team’s game against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday due to a sore left calf, coach Mike Budenholzer said.

It’s easy to dismiss concerns of Antetokounmpo’s discomfort given Milwaukee has nothing left to play for in the regular season. With their thrilling win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, the Bucks clinched the league’s top record, gaining home-court advantage throughout the postseason. Budenholzer, though, pushed back on the notion that Antetokounmpo is sitting out due to that reality.

“I would not term it resting,” he told ESPN’s Malika Andrews.

Antetokounmpo’s absence, no matter the justification behind it, is a major boon for the Nets, who are suddenly at risk of missing the playoffs after going 3-7 in their last 10 games.

Brooklyn, at 39-40, is tied with the Detroit Pistons for the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the Miami Heat and two games in front of the Charlotte Hornets with three left to play. The Nets’ season finale is against Miami on April 10th, a matchup that could serve as a de facto play-in game for the postseason should the teams enter with the same record. The Heat lead the season series 2-1, but Brooklyn holds the next relevant tie-breaker, win-loss record against in-conference opponents.

Milwaukee will also be without starting shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon against Brooklyn, who’s still recovering from a partially torn plantar fascia poised to keep him sidelined until at least the second round of the playoffs. Tipoff at Fiserv Forum is set for 5:00 p.m. EST.