MILWAUKEE — Two games into the preseason and the Milwaukee Bucks have already been hammered by injuries.
The exhibition season was supposed to be a crucial time for new coach Larry Drew to implement his system for 11 new faces, but the Bucks are now just trying to avoid any other injuries until reinforcements return.
Milwaukee’s frontcourt has been hit the hardest, as power forward Ersan Ilyasova sprained his right ankle in Tuesday’s preseason opener and Ekpe Udoh is out four to six weeks after having right knee surgery.
With reserve center Zaza Pachulia still recovering from Achilles surgery, the Bucks are down to Larry Sanders, John Henson and Miroslav Raduljica inside. Because of the lack of depth, Drew will be forced to play a couple of players out of position for the time being.
Drew hopes to get Pachulia back in the near future, as the veteran has recently been cleared to start playing one-on-one and two-on-two.
“We went from having too many bigs to where we’re really short in that area now,” Drew said. “Hopefully we can get through the preseason and, one, not get any more bigs hurt, and two, get them back.
“It’s a concern. When you put in a new system, you want all your guys there to have them out on the floor and go through everything. This whole process with 11 guys and teaching them a whole new system, you need everybody there. You play the hand that’s dealt to you, and that’s always been my kind of philosophy.”
Rookie forward Giannis Antetokounmpo missed part of Friday’s practice with knee soreness but will be available for Saturday. Gary Neal will miss Saturday’s preseason game against Charlotte with a sprained arch in his left foot.