The Nets aren’t the only Eastern Conference contender dealing with a significant injury. Their potential second-round opponent has one, too.
Unlike the strained plantar fascia in Jeff Green’s left foot that will shut him down for 10 days, the Bucks will be without starting guard Donte DiVincenzo for the rest of the postseason.
The former Villanova star has a torn ligament in his left ankle, the Bucks announced on Friday, the day after they took a commanding 3-0 lead over the Heat in their opening-round playoff series. The 24-year-old DiVincenzo started 66 games during the regular season and averaged career-highs of 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
“It’s a tough blow, but you have to kind of process and understand it’s an unfortunate thing, but we have to prepare and get ready,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters. “Other guys will have opportunities.”
Jeff Teague, Bryn Forbes and Pat Connaughton are all options to replace DiVincenzo. Forbes and Connaughton are key reserves who are significant parts of the Bucks’ second unit. The 32-year-old Teague has plenty of experience, but has been out of Budenholzer’s playoff rotation.
“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.”
The Nets and Bucks appear to be on a collision course to meet in the conference semifinals. The Bucks took two of three from the Nets during the regular season. While Milwaukee can close out the Heat on Saturday afternoon in Miami, the Nets entered Friday night up 2-0 on the Celtics after two convincing home wins.
It remains to be seen how much Green will be able to play in the next round — if at all — assuming the Nets advance as expected. The valuable reserve forward will be reevaluated in nine days. If the Bucks and Nets both win their respective series in five games or fewer, their series would start next Saturday in Brooklyn. Otherwise, it would begin two days later.