With the Bucks down 3-0 to the Heat, any hope of even extending the series seemingly rested on whether Giannis Antetokounmpo could not only find his MVP-caliber form, but whether he could play at all with an ankle injury.

Obviously Milwaukee coming back at all seemed far-fetched, especially given how well Miami had been playing, but taking the court without Giannis seemed likely to be a certain sweep. Instead, the star gave it a go:

And then very quickly it became apparent that just taping it up wasn’t going to be enough to get through the game:

Incredibly, Giannis actually shot the free throws he was awarded, in order to preserve the chance to return to the game:

That wasn’t for a lack of trying, though, apparently:

It’s hard to imagine an ankle injury like that would recover enough to play a Game 5, but arguably the bigger headline there is that there will BE a Game 5. After losing Giannis a barely into the second quarter, the Bucks somehow managed to fight over that hurdle and actually take a game. It did require overtime, though, and it also required a gargantuan effort from Khris Middleton.

The Bucks second-best player stepped into the top role with Giannis out, playing 48 minutes and putting up a ridiculous 36/8/8 line. None of those points were bigger than the final three, though, a dagger with time expiring in overtime that sealed the game:

So, hey, good for the Bucks here for gutting out that game and avoiding the sweep. Obviously Giannis is going to try and play, but even if he somehow does manage to get onto the floor there’s almost no chance he’s going to be himself. And, honestly, they should probably not let him play, all things considered. We’re only a few months out from next season at this point, and if the ankle is that unstable, bringing in long-term major injury risk doesn’t feel worth it, down 3-1.

There’s an irony to Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks finally winning a game after being forced into major adjustments by this injury, too. Miami’s gameplans had been built to take away Giannis, and they’d done a great job of it. Once Giannis wasn’t a factor, things reset a bit, and Milwaukee was able to get a close win.

It’s probably too little, too late, but it’s better than nothing.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.