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Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer ‘encouraged’ by Nikola Mirotic’s calf strain evaluation, will be ‘very cautious’ bringing him back

Nikola Mirotic

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told local reporters on Saturday he is encouraged by Nikola Mirotic’s calf strain evaluation but will be very cautious with Niko’s recovery.

The Bucks acquired Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans in a three-team trade with the Detroit Pistons.

Mirotic hasn’t played since Jan. 23. The 27-year-old is averaging 16.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game this season while shooting 44.7 percent from the field, 36.8 percent from beyond the arc, and 84.2 percent from the free-throw line.

The Bucks have the luxury of being able to play it safe with Mirotic since they enter Saturday with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 41-13. When he is ready to play, Mirotic is going to make Milwaukee’s offense even more lethal.

Mirotic is a stretch forward who is nearly automatic from the 3-point line. His presence alone is going to create more driving lanes for superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and point guard Eric Bledsoe because defenders can’t leave Mirotic open on the perimeter.

Bledsoe and Mirotic will be able to play the pick-and-pop game. Brook Lopez has developed into a sniper from deep, and now Mirotic gives the Bucks another big man who’s also a specialist from beyond the arc. Milwaukee could very well win the Eastern Conference now that they have so many weapons on offense.