The Bucks will be without one of their starting guards for the rest of the playoffs

Jim Owczarski
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Donte DiVincenzo suffers an ankle injury in the second quarter Thursday night against the Heat.

MIAMI – When Donte DiVincenzo took a drive baseline just under two minutes into the second quarter Thursday night and planted on his left foot, he immediately let go of the ball and quickly hobbled off the court to the Milwaukee Bucks bench. At the next opportunity, he subbed out and limped right to the locker room.

The initial reaction of the 24-year-old guard was tough to watch, and he was immediately ruled out with what was called a foot contusion for the rest of the Bucks’ 113-84 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference playoff series. 

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said the team hoped it would not be a serious injury, but an MRI Friday afternoon revealed DiVincenzo suffered a tendon injury in the ankle and will be out for the remainder of the playoffs. The guard was examined by team physician Dr. Carole Vetter.

“Its tough news,” Budenholzer said. “On an individual, personal level for Donte its really, really tough. But you know his mentality, his approach, anytime Donte’s thrown some adversity or thrown something that’s difficult for himself or for everybody, the way he handles it continues to be impressive every time. Same for our group.

"It’s a tough blow, but you gotta 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 and we’ve got to continue to move forward.”

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After reports had him nearly being traded away in the offseason to Sacramento as part of an attempt to land Bogdan Bogdanović, DiVincenzo turned in his best season as a regular starter for the Bucks.

He played 27.5 minutes per game in 66 starts in the regular season, shooting a career-high 37.9% from behind the three-point line. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in the regular season.

In the three games against Miami, DiVincenzo averaged 2.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

But the on-court loss of DiVincenzo goes beyond the stat lines. Giannis Antetokounmpo called him the heart of the team, and Jrue Holiday said DiVincenzo is his favorite teammate. But Budenholzer said DiVincenzo will finish out the playoff run with the team and remain on the bench and in team settings.

“You’re there for him, you let him know how much you are about him, how important he is to us including going forward,” Budenholzer said. “He can help us. His energy is infectious. He understands. Despite how hard it is, he’s going to be better, stronger going forward and we’ve got to collect ourselves going forward.”

At various points this season, the third-year guard out of Villanova has missed games due to a right great toe sprain and soreness and he’s been listed on the injury report with left Achilles soreness.

In his rookie year of 2018-19, DiVincenzo dealt with bilateral heel bursitis in his right foot which limited him to 27 games and ended his season early. He returned to play 66 games last year in a reserve role.

Budenholzer said he and his staff will take the day Friday and early Saturday before the game to determine who will fill DiVincenzo’s starting spot.

Bryn Forbes started 10 games and Pat Connaughton started four. Veteran point guard Jeff Teague, acquired via buyout, saw his first action of the series late in Thursday’s game.

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