Why didn't Giannis Antetokounmpo play on Wednesday? Jason Kidd won't tell.

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Kelly Dwyer
Why didn't Giannis Antetokounmpo play on Wednesday? Jason Kidd won't tell.
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You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed that Bucks wunderkind Giannis Antetokounmpo was sitting on Wednesday evening. There were 13 NBA games on, and the only bit of intrigue surrounding the Milwaukee/Cleveland matchup surrounded the worry that the Cavaliers would somehow give away a chance at securing a Central Division crown and guaranteed second playoff seed.

The Cavs prevailed, by a 104-99 score and, wait, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t play? Like, at all?

Was he sick?

Injured?

Usually 20-year olds don’t need rest, right?

Yo, Antetokounmpo, what the hell happened?

“He didn’t tell me,” Antetokounmpo answered when asked when head coach Jason Kidd told him he would sit. “No, he didn’t tell me.”

Was the benching for being late to practice? For rest? Because of an injury?

“I don’t know,” Antetokounmpo said after the game. “It was coach’s decision — I don’t know — for me not to play today.”

The second-year forward’s comments came after Jason Kidd went into “you know I was playing in the NBA 23 months ago, right?”-mode while meeting with the press. From Matt Velazquez at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Kidd made it clear that sitting the 6-foot-11 second-year forward was his decision. He invoked the phrase "coach's decision" six times during his postgame press conference.

"Coach's decision," Kidd said for the fourth time. "It was a coach's decision. I don't know what, you guys can't hear? ...You guys are smart. How about the game?"

Whatever the reasoning behind Kidd's decision was, it wasn't because Antetokounmpo is injured. The head coach was blunt with his answer when asked if there was a health issue involved.

"No, he was breathing," Kidd said.

Kidd did tell the press prior to the contest that veteran Jared Dudley would be starting in Antetokounmpo’s place on Wednesday, but he didn’t let on that the expected Milwaukee cornerstone would be taking in the first “Did not play – coach’s decision” of the season, and his first since Nov. 2013.

Did Kidd just forget to put Antetokounmpo in the game? Hardly, Giannis is a rather lengthy presence on the bench, and Kidd has turned in one of the best coaching jobs of the season this year with the Bucks. Expected to rank amongst the NBA’s worst teams, Milwaukee has been in the playoff bracket for most the year, despite working mostly without two would-be franchise cornerstones in Larry Sanders and Jabari Parker.

Are Kidd and Antetokounmpo having a tough time getting along? Nothing in their relationship’s past would indicate as much. Kidd is as sullen as Antetokounmpo is goofy, but not appreciating a 20-year old’s idiosyncrasies usually doesn’t merit an NBA benching.

Is Giannis struggling? Not really. He missed nine of 12 shots in the team’s previous game, a loss to the Magic, but lines like those don’t really stick out on a Bucks team that ranks sixth-worst in offensive efficiency this season. Giannis’ defense is one of the biggest reasons the Bucks rank fifth on that end, and he’s acted as one of the few bright spots offensively for Milwaukee over the last month.

Is Jared Dudley the better matchup on LeBron? That’s debatable.

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Antetokounmpo has started twice in the contests that James has played against Milwaukee this season, both Cavalier wins. LeBron averaged 27 points, 6.5 rebounds, two and a half steals and eight assists a game against Giannis, because he’s LeBron, making nearly half his shots. Antetokounmpo held his own, however, managing 14.5 points, 7.5 boards and 4.5 assists a contest. Not bad for a kid, one that no doubt had a part in luring LeBron into the 12 turnovers he’d coughed up in two games against the Bucks in 2014-15. Dudley worked 20 minutes in one game and got his own DNP-CD in the other.

Does a 20-year old need rest, especially with the Bucks attempting to right their season after a recent swoon? Hell no.

Did Jason Kidd handle things appropriately after the game? Hell, HELL, no.

Kidd has a right to be upset after a tough loss. The Cavs were never able to turn the corner on the Bucks, and had Milwaukee been able to fully scratch their way to a win the team would have a season-defining conquest to hang their hat on. The team took a huge risk in trading Brandon Knight for Michael Carter-Williams in February, and MCW had his best game as a Buck against Cleveland, notching 30 points and eight assists. To come just short has to burn.

Jason Kidd doesn’t have to like the press that meets with him after these sorts of losses, but he can’t act curt in their presence when the press is asking what every Milwaukee Bucks fan badly wants to know – why isn’t Giannis Antetokounmpo playing? It’s a day later and every Buck fan on a message board and blog wants an update. Bucks fans have been through a lot, and Antetokounmpo represents a giddy future. They understand it’s not the worst thing in the world if there’s a late-season hiccup, there’s no soap opera brewing here, but they’d also like some clarification.

And Bucks fans aren’t allowed an audience with Jason Kidd following a game to ask what happened. The press is, and Kidd chided them for asking the questions they should have asked.

Why didn’t Giannis Antetokounmpo play?

Milwaukee’s next game is on Friday, in New York.

UPDATE, kind of:

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!