With 1:12 remaining in Thursday’s Eastern Conference finals Game 5, the Milwaukee Bucks pulled their best player form the court while trailing 98-95.
Giannis Antetokounmpo appeared to twist his right ankle on the previous possession in the Raptors backcourt when he stepped on Kawhi Leonard’s foot trying to make a play on the ball after Toronto secured a rebound.
Antetokounmpo fell down and trailed getting back on defense, eventually leaving the game when the clock stopped on a foul.
Giannis’ return raises questions
He missed the next 37 seconds of game play as the Raptors maintained their three-point edge in their eventual 105-99 win. But he returned to action with 34.7 seconds remaining, raising the question: Why did Antetokounmpo leave the game?
If he wasn’t injured, what good reason could Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer have had for pulling the MVP candidate at such a critical juncture of the Eastern Conference finals?
Budenholzer explains decision
He talked about the decision in the postgame press conference, explaining that Antetokounmpo appeared to be hurt, but felt better after his break from the court.
“He twisted his ankle in the backcourt,” Budenholzer said. “He just looked like he was in a lot of pain and maybe couldn’t move. We had an offensive possession. Just maybe get somebody out there who could move, make a shot.
“It kind of wore off — the adrenaline wore off, and he was able to go back in.”
If Budenholzer was convinced that Antetokounmpo couldn’t move, the decision to pull him makes sense. But Antetokounmpo looked fine when he returned to the court, showing little sign of injury running up and down the court.
The pressure gets high in Game 5, and decisions like this one come quick. Did Budenholzer panic by pulling Antetokounmpo?
More from Yahoo Sports: