Giannis' Playoff Injury Puts Bucks' Damian Lillard Trade to Ultimate Test

Damian Lillard was brought in last summer for exactly these moments. He needs to step up against the Indiana Pacers to prove he still got it.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks shocked the NBA last summer when they traded for disgruntled superstar Damian Lillard in exchange for Jrue Holiday and future assets. This was supposed to pair two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo with another offensive star to ease his load and make the Bucks a more dangerous title contender. This didn't come to fruition in the regular season.

The chemistry in Milwaukee seemed a bit off all season. First-time head coach Adrian Griffin only lasted 43 games. The defense looked out of sorts, Khris Middleton continued to look a step slower, and Damian Lillard didn't look like his old All-NBA self.

As a result, the Bucks finished the season with a disappointing 49-33 record. Thanks to the weakness of the Eastern Conference, they still managed to claim third seed and set themselves up with a first-round matchup against the Indiana Pacers.

The concerns for Milwaukee were only exacerbated after it was reported that Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful to play in Game 1 and miss even more time with injury.

This puts the Bucks in a disadvantageous position against the Pacers and their high-powered, dynamic offense. Damian Lillard needs to step up in Giannis's absence to lead the team.

This is an excellent opportunity for Dame Time to show what he is capable of. Situations like this are exactly why the Bucks traded for Lillard last summer. The 33-year-old had one of his least efficient seasons this year but needs to deliver a few vintage performances to keep this team afloat until Antetokounmpo comes back.

If not, this trade will go down as a disaster really quickly and there might be some radical changes in the offseason. The Bucks simply can't afford another first-round exit during their championship window.

Game 1 will take place in Milwaukee on Sunday. The Bucks are slight underdogs (-102) against the Pacers as things stand now. If you think Lillard has what it takes to deliver a victory, head over to FanDuel Sportsbook now, claim your sign-up offer of $150 in bonus bets, and get in on the action.

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