MIAMI — Donte DiVincenzo’s season is over, after tests showed Friday that the Milwaukee guard tore a ligament in his left ankle during Game 3 of the Bucks’ playoff series against the Miami Heat.
DiVincenzo had appeared in 69 games for Milwaukee this season, all of them starts including the three playoff matchups. His regular-season averages — 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists — were all the best of his three-year career.
“It’s tough news. On an individual, personal level for Donte, it’s really, really tough,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday. “But his mentality, his approach, anytime Donte is thrown some adversity or thrown something that’s difficult for himself or for everybody, the way he handles it just continues to be impressive every time.”
The injury happened early in the second quarter. DiVincenzo was driving toward the basket when he apparently took a bad step and immediately winced in obvious pain. He made his way back to the other end of the court toward the Milwaukee bench, slapped a sideline barrier in frustration and then hopped into the locker room for evaluation.
The Bucks originally called it a left foot contusion and Budenholzer said there was hope within the team postgame that DiVincenzo would only miss a small amount of time.
An MRI on Friday took that hope away.
“It’s a tough blow,” Budenholzer said. “You’ve got to kind of process it and understand it’s an unfortunate thing, but we’ve got to prepare and get ready and other guys will have opportunities.”
Budenholzer’s move will be to decide who starts beginning with Saturday’s potential Eastern Conference first-round series clincher in Miami; the Bucks lead the series 3-0. The lineup of DiVincenzo along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez was 34-14 this season.
An option may be to start Jeff Teague for DiVincenzo, a move that would allow Budenholzer to keep what has become his traditional second unit — primarily with Bryn Forbes and Pat Connaughton getting the backup guard minutes — intact. Teague has played only 5 minutes, 26 seconds in the three playoff games, all during Thursday’s Game 3 blowout.
“Jeff Teague, his ability to step in and play and help us is certainly something that gives us confidence,” Budenholzer said. “Everybody’s got to be ready to go. If you’re in a uniform, you’ve got to be ready.”
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