A few key contributors returned to practice in preparation for the regular season opener this week.
By ANDREW GRUMANFS Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE -- With the season opener looming on Wednesday, the
Milwaukee Bucks got good news on the injury front Monday.
Reserve forwards Carlos Delfino and Ekpe Udoh were the only two players to sit out Monday, as point guard Brandon Knight (left hamstring), small forward Caron Butler (left ankle), point guard Luke Ridnour (back) and Gary Neal (illness) returned to practice.
The biggest news of the day was
Ersan Ilyasova's return to the practice floor after missing nearly three weeks with a sprained right ankle suffered in the preseason opener in Cleveland on Oct. 8.
Knight missed Milwaukee's last two preseason games with a sore left hamstring, while Butler turned his ankle on Oct. 23 against New York.
"We had everybody today," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "I didn't recognize some of the faces. It was good to get everybody out there with Ersan and Brandon being out. It's just good to get bodies back."
While Knight, Butler, Ridnour and Neal will all play against New York on Wednesday, Ilyasova's status is still up in the air. Drew was preparing to not have his starting power forward for the season opener, but Ilyasova has a chance to play against the Knicks.
The Bucks will wait to see how Ilyasova responds Tuesday before making a determination on his status for Wednesday.
"We didn't go hard today, but I was feeling much better," Ilyasova said. "It's a day-by-day thing now. Tomorrow we have another practice.
"We're hearing really positive things right now. I'll practice tomorrow and go a little bit harder, and we'll see what I feel."
Drew will head into Wednesday's game with two different plans of action, one with Ilyasova and one without. He's been preparing the Bucks as if Ilyasova wouldn't play by starting a small lineup over the past few exhibition games.
If Ilyasova can't go, the Bucks will likely start Khris Middleton and Caron Butler at the two forward positions, bringing John Henson off the bench.
"If he's not playing, we know which way we'll go," Drew said. "If he is able to play, we'll adjust accordingly."
Ilyasova spent the summer playing for the Turkish national team and admitted the time off the injury provided might come in handy in the long run.
"When you come from the national team your body is tired a little bit," Ilyasova said. "I'm really glad it's nothing really serious, and I wasn't out longer. It took me about 20 days to recover, and I'm really glad I feel better.
"I went through two months of training camp (with Turkey) and never had anything -- then the first game of training camp (he sprained his ankle). It was really disappointing but you have to stay positive."
Ilyasova will likely be limited Wednesday even if he's able to play. He'll still need to build up his conditioning and has missed out on valuable practice time to learn Drew's system.
"As far as I can help the team, that's what I'm looking for," Ilyasova said. "I'm not looking to play 30-40 minutes, but coming off an injury like I have, whatever minutes you get to just do positive things."
Floor update: Officials from the NBA will be in Milwaukee Tuesday and Wednesday to inspect the floor at the BMO Harris Bradley Center that caused last Friday's exhibition game between the Bucks and Raptors to be canceled in the first quarter.
Bucks owner Herb Kohl says the floor issue will not prevent Milwaukee from playing its home opener Saturday night against Toronto. If the newly-designed floor won't be ready in time, the Bucks will bring in their old floor to play on temporarily while.
"It's really not a problem," Kohl said. "As long as (the fans) know we are going to play on the new floor or on the floor they've been watching for all these years, I don't see it as an issue that fans need to be concerned about. They need to know the game will be played on Saturday."
Kohl is confident whatever caused the new floor to become slippery and unplayable will be resolved in due time, and the Bucks will be able to utilize the Robert Indiana-inspired court.
"If there is a problem, it must be minor because we've already played on the new floor," Kohl said. "I consider it to be an issue that needs to be resolved, but in terms of the Milwaukee Bucks playing basketball, it's not an issue. We're going to play."