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Report: Thanasis Unavailable For Game Five

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The elder Antetokounmpo brother has been ruled out as a part of the league’s health and safety protocols.

2021 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

With mere hours before the Milwaukee Bucks tip off against the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a surprising bit of news came out on social media: Thanasis Antetokounmpo, older brother of Giannis and on the outside of the playoff rotation, is unavailable due to the league’s COVID protocols.

In strict basketball terms, Thanasis’ absence is unfortunate but largely inconsequential. He has gotten only spot minutes during the playoffs and generally does not have a spot on the floor, outside of garbage time. The Bucks’ rotation has shrank all the way down to their five starters and three(ish) bench players, and Thanasis Antetokounmpo is not one of those three.

However, the larger issue is the ever-looming specter of the coronavirus, and the fact that Thanasis is absent because of something related to COVID-19. It could be as serious as a positive test or diagnosis, which would suggest that other members of the team – as well as his own family, a group that little brother Giannis is also a part of – may be similarly exposed. It could be as minuscule as a contact tracing precaution (as in, Thanasis may have recently come into contact with someone who tested positive) or a false positive. We simply don’t know, but as of yet we have no indication that anyone else with the Bucks has been affected.

For now, chalk it up to an over abundance of caution, regardless of the timing (which would be otherworldly bad for the Bucks, who are tied 2-2 and preparing to compete for a road win here in Game 5), the ongoing global pandemic is something that we all need to continue taking seriously. Here’s hoping Thanasis, and everyone else, ends up alright.

UPDATE: It appears that Thanasis is not the only person who will miss tonight’s game in Phoenix; we don’t know specifics yet, but at least one person on the Milwaukee staff is unavailable, as well as a member of the officiating crew.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00pm central time, we’ll see if that holds…

UPDATE: We’ll, that was quick. The member of the Bucks’ staff who is similarly unavailable is Josh Oppenheimer, per ESPN.