As the Milwaukee Bucks stand on the brink of elimination Thursday night, their star players remain questionable to return. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard are reportedly working toward a potential return in Game 6 on the road against the Indiana Pacers, but they do not yet have an official status.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Bucks coach Doc Rivers said when asked for injury updates. “I know I hope [to have them on the floor again in the series]. I think they’re very, very, very close.”

Despite finishing the season as the third seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks have suffered a litany of injuries to key players before and during their first-round matchup against the Pacers. Antetokounmpo has not yet appeared in the first five games, leaving Lillard and Khris Middleton to lead the team on the floor. Middleton has had to play through a setback he suffered in Game 2, while Lillard was heroic in the first three games before missing Games 4 and 5 with an Achilles strain.

“[Antetokounmpo] didn’t do a lot [at shootaround],” Rivers said during a press conference before Game 6. “Did some shooting again. Did more after I left, but I didn’t see it. Dame didn’t do anything.”

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After the press conference, Lillard took the floor for shooting practice, and his status has since been upgraded to questionable.

Milwaukee has managed to claw its way back to a 3-2 series deficit without its major contributors, which is a feat in itself, as the Pacers have done them no favors while trying to spring the upset. Indiana star Tyrese Haliburton has led the team throughout the series, particularly in a Game 3 overtime victory in which he scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and 16 assists.

Even if Antetokounmpo and Lillard return, the Bucks will have to win two straight games, one on the road and one at home, to advance to the second round. A loss in the first round would be an unfortunate result for a team pegged as a serious championship contender before the 2023-24 season.

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