The Milwaukee Bucks had a path with fewer obstacles once the Atlanta Hawks declared point guard Trae Young out for Game 4.
Then, an avalanche of boulders tumbled into that path when Bucks All-NBA forward Giannis Antetokounmpo crumpled in a heap of limbs, screaming in pain and grabbing his hyperextended left knee.
The direction of a playoff series can change in the time it takes for Antetokounmpo to jump and defend a Clint Capela alley-oop dunk, get tangled on the way down and land awkwardly.
Atlanta, which controlled the game from start to finish, defeated Milwaukee 110-88 on Tuesday, evening the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2.
Antetokounmpo missed the final 19 minutes, but the Bucks were in trouble with him on the court before the injury. The Hawks led 51-38 at halftime and were up 62-52 when Antetokounmpo sustained his injury.
It was just a four-possession game, but the Bucks had not displayed any indication they were capable of a comeback.