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MILWAUKEE – Things were going well for the Milwaukee Bucks until 3:40 in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Boston Celtics. In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Bucks are up 15 points on the NBA’s only 60-win team.

Then came disaster.

Without making contact with another player, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo fell to the floor and immediately grabbed the lower half of his left leg.

After sitting briefly with his teammates and the coach around him, Antetokounmpo put weight on his feet and shouldered teammates Brook Lopez and Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Finally, Antetokounmpo walked back into the Bucs locker room under his own power.

The Bucks announced Tuesday night that Antetokounmpo strained his left soleus, a muscle in his left leg. But Antetokounmpo managed to avoid damage to his left Achilles tendon — a remarkable feat — and his return will depend on medical treatment and rehabilitation of his strained calf, league sources said. The athleticsShams Charania on Wednesday morning.

The injury cast a cloud over Milwaukee’s 104-91 win over Boston.

Bucks point guard Damian Lillard was the go-to player for Antetokounmpo as the Bucks’ All-NBA power forward walked the floor, bringing the ball up and starting with offensive rebounds.

“When you see one of your teammates go down, it’s a real threat,” Lillard said. “We spend more time with our family, so I think that’s the main thing. And then to have your best player, the most important part of our team, this season, it was like an “Oh—” moment, especially since there’s no one else around.

“And I was right next to him. And I saw, like, kind of his facial expression, like a reaction. So, obviously, I was scared. I knew we were going to call a timeout, so I dribbled all the way to half court, and when he got up, I could tell he wanted to try to go for a weight. And I saw him put some weight on him and I think the reaction he was doing like that made him back off. But I could see him getting heavier. So I was like, ‘Okay. He looks stronger than I thought.’

“And to see him able to walk on his own, I think that showed me a lot. And so obviously, that was encouraging to see. And now you just want him to be healthy.”

Rivers agreed with Lillard about Antetokounmpo’s health moving forward, especially with the NBA playoffs starting on April 20.

“High, I’d say that,” Rivers said of his level of concern. But he is Giannis. I think everyone probably feels the same way I do right now. Let’s just hope for the best.

With Tuesday’s win, Milwaukee moved to 48-31 on the season. With three regular season games remaining, the Bucks have a one-game lead over the New York Knicks for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks also hold the tie on the Knicks, but have more threats in the standings.

The Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers are both two games behind the Bucks. The Cleveland Cavaliers own the division record against the Bucks, but have now lost three straight and have won just three of their last 10 games. On the other hand, the race is up in the air with the Magic facing the Bucks twice in the final three regular season games – first Wednesday night in Milwaukee and Sunday in Orlando for both teams in the regular season.

Between meetings with the Magic, the Bucks will face the Thunder on March 24 in Oklahoma City. This season, the Bucks are 3-3 in games without Antetokounmpo.

The soleus is one of two muscles that make up the calf, so teams often refer to soleus strains as a general calf strain, but there have been instances where teams have reported that a player suffered from soleus pain. One of those instances happened with Lillard last season, when he was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.

“That — hurt,” Lillard said in response to the question. The athletics How it felt to suffer a similar injury in the first month of the 2022-23 season. “It hurts. … When I do this, I can usually walk things. I feel like I have a high pain tolerance and when I do this, I start to walk, not only because the pain is so bad, but because the muscles can’t handle it.”

“So, once it calms down, you find a way to roll around it, but it’s a weird feeling. But I know when I hear that, I know that feeling. And as someone who has experienced that – if that – that’s also encouraging.

For Lillard, a soleus injury in the same leg caused by a calf strain kept him out earlier in the season. Lillard was first listed on the injury report with a sore right calf on Nov. 6, 2022, but played through the injury until suffering a lone strain a few weeks later.

“When I did it, I checked my calf and then I came back, maybe eight or nine days back from the calf,” Lillard said. “And then… right after I got back, I had my only injury. I think like one or two games after I came back, I did my solo. And after that, it was like two weeks. For me it was like two weeks and then I was back playing.

Lillard was first listed on Portland’s injury report with a right soleus strain on November 20, 2022, and did not play again until the Trail Blazers played the Indiana Pacers on December 4; This is approximately 14 days after the first test.

The playoffs are just 10 days away, so Antetokounmpo’s schedule will depend entirely on the severity of the soleus strain, but Wednesday’s report that Antetokounmpo is out of the Achilles tendon is good news for the Bucks.

(Giannis Antetokounmpo photo: Stacy Rivers/Getty Images)