Milwaukee Bucks head coach Joe Prunty has long history with the San Antonio Spurs
BY BEN STEELE, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL
Milwaukee Bucks coach Joe Prunty doesn't know if he will have superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo available against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Antetokounmpo sprained his right ankle against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday and didn't play in the Bucks' 118-105 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday.
He went through a light practice on Saturday and then went full speed in a one-on-one workout with assistant coach Sean Sweeney.
"It feels good," Antetokounmpo said. "It feels great just going out there, just playing, testing it, doing full speed.
"I've just got to evaluate it (Sunday) and then make a decision."
So does Prunty have to come up with two game plans for the Spurs, one for if Antetokounmpo plays and another if he doesn't?
"You're always trying to figure out what the best opportunities and options are going to be," Prunty said. "So for example, (Friday) night, Jabari (Parker) moved into the starting lineup. We also inserted Sterling Brown into the starting lineup.
"So we're prepared. You make your plans, then it's kind of like a game-time adjustment. And then you have your in-game adjustments."
Prunty is well-acquainted with the Spurs.
He was a high school coach in San Diego when he landed a job as an assistant video coordinator in San Antonio in 1996.
Prunty left the organization for a short stint as an assistant coach with the University of San Diego but was back with the Spurs for the 1997-'98 season.
He eventually worked his way up to assistant coach under Gregg Popovich, who has won 1,193 games with San Antonio since 1996.
" 'Pop' was amazing to all of us, not just me," Prunty said. "But incredible for me in so many ways, personally and professionally.
"He gave me several opportunities to do different things within the organization, whether it was being on the floor, advance scouting, video room, coaching in summer league."
Prunty said the biggest thing he learned in the exalted Spurs culture was not getting consumed by the job.
"With (Popovich) it was just that balance of 'OK, you need to make sure you're doing these things, too, because this thing can be a grind," Prunty said. "You got to make sure you're getting that balance out of it."
The Spurs have won six straight games after a 124-120 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday.
They have been able to stay in the Western Conference playoff picture despite having star forward Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps injury) in only nine games this season .
"What's amazing is you look at the guys coming off the bench for them here recently," Prunty said. "It's (Tony) Parker, (Manu) Ginobili, Rudy Gay, (Davis) Bertans and (Pau) Gasol.
"Well, how many championships do Parker, Ginobili and Gasol have? Rudy Gay has been a starter on pretty much every team he's been on. Everybody knows his abilities. And Bertans ... I know how talented he is. And those are the backups."
Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 45 points against the Jazz, including 28 in the first half.
"He can create some problems, but we had a good game against him down there," said Prunty, referring to the Bucks' 94-87 victory on Nov. 10. "We'll be ready to go (Sunday)."
Prunty has faced the Spurs before as an interim coach.
He was on the sideline during a 123-98 loss to San Antonio on Jan. 4, 2016, when former Bucks coach Jason Kidd was out due to hip surgery.