Giannis Antetokounmpo let his emotions get the best of him on Tuesday as his Milwaukee Bucks took on the Washington Wizards. In a tense second quarter in which he had been fouled several times, Giannis finally lost his temper after a charge call. The Bucks called timeout, but Antetokounmpo, in his frustration, delivered a headbutt to Wizards big man Moe Wagner. He was called for a flagrant-2 foul and ejected.
The ejection was the third of Antetokounmpo’s regular-season career and fourth overall. Based on historical precedent, Antetokounmpo is likely to draw a one-game suspension for this headbutt. Hasheem Thabeet (2013) and Kevin Garnett (2015) both headbutted opposing players and were suspended for their team’s next game. Milwaukee’s next game comes against Memphis as the Grizzlies desperately try to fight their way into the play-in tournament for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
Milwaukee has nothing to play for having long-since clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, so losing Antetokounmpo for a game would have no bearing on their playoff future. But the Bucks have struggled to get into a rhythm in Orlando due to a combination of rest- and coronavirus-induced absences. They will have a relatively easy first-round series against the Magic in which they can hopefully regain the momentum they’ve lost, but after that, they will have to win three very difficult series against fellow contenders.
Now Antetokounmpo loses, at the very least, the rest of this game as a tune-up. He may not play again until the postseason. The Grizzlies didn’t exactly need this win, but getting him those minutes on the court would have been valuable. Now? They are that much closer to entering the playoffs with unnecessary rust.