Preview: Suns at Bucks, 5:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
MILWAUKEE — Giannas Antetokounmpo will watch from the sideline for a second straight game when the Milwaukee Bucks welcome the Phoenix Suns to the Bradley Center on Monday night.
Antetokounmpo is being held out as a precautionary measure as the Bucks try to manage their young superstar’s workload after suffering a knee injury during the offseason that forced him to withdraw from competition with the Greek national team.
The team knew they would need to monitor the situation carefully, and because of that it rested Antetokounmpo — the league leader in minutes per game this season with 37.4 — on Nov. 22 at Phoenix, Dec. 23 at Charlotte and Saturday night when Milwaukee visited Philadelphia.
“Hopefully, after missing these two games, he doesn’t have to miss any more,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said before facing the 76ers.
Milwaukee also played without point guard Malcolm Brogdon in that game. The team announced that he was attending to a family situation, but he’s expected to be back in Milwaukee on Monday night.
That’s good news for the Bucks, who struggled without their leading scorer and top option off the bench in a 116-94 loss to the 76ers — their second in a row and fourth in their last five games.
“We were short-handed and they played hard,” Kidd said.
Without Antetokounmpo, the Bucks beat the Suns 113-107 in overtime the last time they met. The Suns arrive in Milwaukee looking to build momentum after snapping a three-game losing streak Saturday night at Denver.
Devin Booker scored 30 points in that game. He’s averaging 36.5 points in his last two games and leads the team with 24.9 points per game this season, with 27.6 per game coming on the road.
“He’s the type of person that nothing really fazes him,” interim coach Jay Triano said. “A raucous crowd cheering against him or having the ability to make them ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ with some of the things that he does on the road is something that he relishes. It seems like he’s been on the road a lot when he gets on those rolls where he becomes unstoppable.”
The 21-year-old saved some of his best performances for some of the league’s brightest stages, too. His 43-point game came at Portland, he dropped in 46 at Philadelphia and last season dropped 70 against the Celtics in Boston.
“I really don’t try to focus on the crowd,” Booker said. “I like high intensity games, playing in arenas like Oracle (Arena in Oakland, home of the Warriors) or in Portland because they have a real good crowd that will heckle you. Games like that are fun to me.”
The teams wrap up their season series on the 50th anniversary of the day the league established the two franchises in 1968. They met for the first time on Nov. 23 of that season, with the Bucks winning 115-112.
Phoenix leads the all-time series 70-69 and has won 40 of the last 54 meetings, but Milwaukee has won five in a row and is going for a third consecutive season sweep.