Defending a championship is never easy.
The Milwaukee Bucks are learning that the hard way, and it’s about to get even tougher. Theoretically, anyway.
That’s because the Bucks will likely have to face the Boston Celtics without All-Star forward Khris Middleton for their entire second-round playoff series, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Middleton is the ideal Robin to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Batman, averaging 20.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 66 regular-season games.
Middleton has forever been unassuming and vastly underrated. In short, this is a big blow to the Bucks, who will already face Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown without the edge of home-court advantage.
So if it should come down to a Game 7, that game would be in Boston, with no Middleton for the Bucks.
The left MCL injury of Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton is a Grade 2 sprain and he is expected to miss the entire second-round series vs. Celtics, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The recovery of Grade 2 MCL places a potential Conference Finals in jeopardy for him as well.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 28, 2022
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski addressed the Middleton situation during a spot on NBA Today on Wednesday.
“There’s not a sense that he’s going to get reevaluated at two weeks and then all of a sudden be back at practice and be ready to play,” Wojnarowski said, via Hoops Wire. “That’s a benchmark in this process. But the Bucks certainly, they’re on the cusp of getting by the Bulls here. They may have to get through another series, a conference semifinal, before they may have the opportunity to get Khris Middleton back in this season.”
Initially, Middleton was expected to miss no more than two weeks. He suffered a left MCL sprain on April 20 in the first round vs. the Chicago Bulls, a series the Bucks went on to win in five games.
Can Antetokounmpo carry the Bucks against the Celtics’ two-headed monster — and frankly, Boston’s overall depth? Or will the champs be out by the Eastern Conference semifinals?
We’ll just have to wait and see. All we can really say at the moment is it’s not looking good for the Bucks. Game 1 is Sunday at Boston, with tipoff scheduled for 1 p.m. EST.
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