Donte DiVincenzo’s season is over after tests showed Friday the Milwaukee guard tore a ligament in his left ankle in Game 3 of the Bucks Playoffs against the Miami Heat.
DiVincenzo had appeared in 69 games for Milwaukee this season, all debuts, including all three playoffs. His regular-season averages – 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists – were all the best of his three-year career.
“This is tough news. Individually and personally for Donte it’s really, really tough,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “But his mindset, his approach, whenever Donte is faced with adversity or something difficult for himself or for everyone else, the way he handles it continues to be impressive every time.”
The injury occurred at the start of the second quarter. DiVincenzo was walking towards the basket when he apparently took a wrong step and immediately winced in obvious pain. He walked back to the other end of the field toward the Milwaukee bench, slapped a side gate in frustration, then jumped into the locker room for an evaluation.
The Bucks originally called it a contusion to his left foot and Budenholzer said there was hope in the team’s postgame that DiVincenzo would only run out for a short time.
An MRI on Friday took that hope away.
“It’s a big blow,” Budenholzer said. “You have to sort of process it and understand that it’s an unfortunate thing, but we have to prepare and prepare and other guys will have opportunities.”
Budenholzer’s decision will be who will start by starting with the potential winner of Saturday’s Eastern Conference first round series in Miami; the Bucks lead the series 3-0. DiVincenzo’s line-up with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez was 34-14 this season.
One option could be to cast Jeff Teague for DiVincenzo, a move that would allow Budenholzer to keep what has become his traditional second unit intact – mainly with Bryn Forbes and Pat Connaughton getting the save minutes. Teague only played 5 minutes and 26 seconds in all three playoff games, all during the eruption of Game 3 on Thursday.
“Jeff Teague, his ability to step in and play and help us out is definitely something that gives us confidence,” Budenholzer said. “Everyone has to be ready to go. If you’re in uniform, you have to be ready.”
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