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Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo sits out against Cavaliers because of bruised right shoulder

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Bucks may have to manage without Giannis Antetokounmpo for a bit.

Milwaukee's superstar sat out Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers because of a bruised right shoulder, an injury that forced him to the bench for just the second time this season.

Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 31.2 points and 11.4 rebounds this season, took part in the team's morning shootaround. He was not on the official injury report until 5:30 p.m. — two hours before tipoff against the Cavs, who have won five straight.

Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said Antetokounmpo's injury isn't serious but will require some rest. When he sat out on Nov. 15, Antetokounmpo's teammates stepped up and beat Toronto 128-112.

“This is good for us,” said Griffin, noting it's not the same as having Antetokounmpo, a two-time league MVP, available. “It will give other players opportunities to get on the floor and get some minutes.”

A seven-time All-Star, Antetokounmpo also was on the injury report Sunday before a game against Sacramento, but played and scored 27 points in Milwaukee's 143-142 overtime victory, which ended with Damian Lillard hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The 29-year-old Antetokounmpo had played in 29 game consecutive games, his longest streak since playing 31 straight in the 2020-21 season.

Griffin has the luxury of being able to lean on Lillard, who is averaging 25.2 points in his first season with the Bucks, as well as a postseason-tested Milwaukee team.

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff was pretty confident he knew how the Bucks would adjust without Antetokounmpo.

“It's more Dame Lillard, more Dame Lillard, more Dame Lillard,” he said. “It’s not a disrespect to the other guys. Those guys have won a championship. Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, those guys have contributed to winning a championship. When you have that type of mentality, you’re always scary because they believe that they can do great things.”

While Antetokounmpo is out, the Bucks are expected to have back forward Jae Crowder, who has been out since Nov. 11 with a torn adductor muscle. Crowder will likely be on a minutes restriction as he eases his way back.

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