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Irving to have knee surgery, Antetokounmpo out with ankle sprain

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By Agence France-Presse

Boston’s Kyrie Irving and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmopo, two of the NBA’s top-10 scorers, will be sidelined with injuries for road games Friday, their clubs announced.

Irving, who celebrated his 26th birthday Friday, is averaging 24.4 points, 5.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 60 games this season but has been nagged by a sore left knee for the injury-hit Celtics, who open a four-game road trip at Portland.

Irving, ranked 10th among league scorers, will undergo a minimally invasive procedure on Saturday to alleviate irritation, the team said.

It’s the same left knee Irving hurt in the opening game of the 2015 NBA Finals playing for Cleveland against eventual champion Golden State, a setback that required kneecap surgery.

“He’s going to go through (the operation) tomorrow and we’ll know more after that,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

A return timetable was expected after the surgery for Irving, who missed his fourth consecutive game on Tuesday and fifth of the month overall. He said the soreness began during a March 3 loss at NBA wins leader Houston and also benched him in the second half of a loss to Indiana.

Greece’s Antetokounmpo, who is scheduled to be featured on national television newsmagazine “60 Minutes” on Sunday, will miss Friday’s Bucks’ game at Chicago with a right ankle sprain.

Antetokounmpo, who ranks fourth in the NBA with 27.3 points a game, underwent an MRI on the ankle and interim Bucks coach Joe Prunty said he will be reevaluated moving forward.

It will be the fifth game missed by the All-Star forward this season and it comes with the Bucks clinging to the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot at 37-34 but 5 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Detroit.

“The experience of having gone through it, there’s a level of familiarity with it,” Prunty said. “We’re not going to overhaul the system, maybe run a few different plays. Certain guys will have to step up in terms of picking up the scoring. We are familiar with it and capbale of handling it and so we’ve got to do that.”

Jabari Parker was expected to step into the starting role vacated by the “Greek Freak” for at least a night.

“It’s one of the things we’ve talked about all year long. Everybody has got to be ready to play. Next man be ready to step up,” Prunty said. “We know what we’re capable of. If we continue to move the ball and get quality shots we can score but we’ve got to do a better job defensively and I believe we will.” (AFP)