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Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Bucks assistant and referee out for Game 5 due to health and safety protocols

The NBA is dealing with a few absences ahead of Saturday’s game

NBA: Finals-Phoenix Suns at Milwaukee Bucks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks backup forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo and assistant coach Josh Oppenheimer will not be with the team for Game 5 of the NBA Finals due to the league’s health and safety protocols, according to ESPN Senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.

Antetokounmpo, the older brother of Bucks superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, is not a significant contributor for Milwaukee, playing just over one minute in this series. But he is very close to Giannis Antetokounmpo, a fact that Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer addressed in his pregame availability before Game 5.

“Just keeping the whole group safe and healthy,” Budenholzer said. “Certainly those two guys’ connection and the closeness, everybody knows it. But you know, I think we’re all good. We’re all ready. Ready to go.”

Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s NBA Countdown that Thanasis Antetokounmpo has not been ruled out for the remainder of the series. Oppenheimer is in contact tracing, according to Wojnarowski, and could return for Game 6 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The Bucks have no further listed absences aside from guard Donte Divincenzo, who is out for the remainder of the postseason after receiving left ankle surgery, and guard Sam Merrill, who is out with a right ankle sprain.

Oppenheimer, who was announced to have joined Milwaukee’s staff on Nov. 17, 2020, will now have been away from the Bucks’ bench for three consecutive games, according to Wojnarowski. Per Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oppenheimer is typically the coach who warms up with Giannis Antetokounmpo pregame.

“I think the health and safety protocols are on the front of everybody’s minds right now,” Budenholzer said. “I think we’re in a good place and ready to go.”

In addition to the Bucks’ absences, the NBA announced that referee Sean Wright will not officiate tonight’s game due to health and safety protocols. He will be replaced by James Williams, who will serve as umpire along with crew chief Marc Davis and Josh Tiven.

The NBA is scheduled to conclude its championship series by Thursday, July 22, which would be the date of a potential Game 7 in Phoenix. The league set this date to finish its postseason before the Olympics, which start on Friday, July 23.

Milwaukee and the Phoenix Suns are currently tied in the NBA Finals at two games apiece.

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