Milwaukee Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer returns from four-game absence after clearing protocol

MILWAUKEE – Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer cleared health and safety protocols and returned to the bench for Thursday night’s 118-99 win over the Golden State Warriors.

Budenholzer had missed the previous four games after entering league protocols on January 5. He said he initially felt symptoms after contracting the coronavirus, but they cleared up after a few days and he’s started to feel healthy again.

Budenholzer remained involved with the squad during his absence, joining meetings via Zoom with numerous phone calls and texts, but he wanted to give Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham his space while he was interim head coach .

“All the trust the world has in these guys,” Budenholzer said ahead of the game. “I don’t know what the right word is, but it’s fun watching these guys do their thing. Just know it’s really, really hard to be away from them but to see Darvin and the coach assistant and the way the players respond to them, it’s a really good thing that we have here.

“Sitting down and seeing it from a different perspective is probably healthy for me, too.”

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo joked that he was happy Budenholzer was gone for a bit.

“That little break with Coach Bud, I enjoyed it,” he said with a smile. “He’s going to go crazy.

Although Budenholzer returned for Thursday’s game, Milwaukee was without goaltender Jrue Holiday, who missed his fourth straight game with a left ankle injury. It’s the same Holiday ankle injured earlier in the season that kept him out of six games, so the Bucks wanted to be cautious.

“He’s making progress. He’s moving in the right direction,” Budenholzer said. “To say it’s going a little slower than we expected or thought, I think, is fair. We’ll see how the next 24 to 48 hours go, but we have to think about the big picture with him. He’s an ankle that’s been a bit of a problem for him this year so I think more time is better, we’ll see how he is the next day or two.

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