Khris Middleton is confident that he’ll be available for his regular role when the Bucks open their playoff series on Sunday, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Middleton hasn’t played since he aggravated his sore right knee April 5, but he was able to participate in his second full practice Saturday.
“It took about two days to kind of get it to go away and get back to being myself,” he said. “Doing a little bit more rehab this past couple days. The long break I think has been great for everybody to freshen up and that’s exactly what I tried to do, take advantage of this time to get my body right.”
It has been an injury-plagued season for Middleton, who was only on the court for 33 games. Owczarski points out that he had his most productive stretch after being inserted back into the starting lineup March 7 following a bout with knee pain. In the 11 games since then, Middleton averaged 19.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists while shooting 47% from the field.
“Playing those minutes, being in the starting lineup, playing with a lot of those main guys out there, I felt like I’d been doing it for years,” he said. “I’d been saying it, my body was feeling great for a while up to that point so it wasn’t a huge a confidence reach. It was a little bit to say, OK, yeah, I could still do this, but I felt more like myself again in that role and in those minutes.”
There’s more from Milwaukee:
- Mike Budenholzer offered a ringing endorsement for assistant Charles Lee, who is among the candidates for the Pistons‘ head coaching position, Owczarski adds. Lee began working under Budenholzer with the Hawks in 2014 and followed him to Milwaukee four years later. “Charles Lee is, I think, one of the top guys in our league,” Budenholzer said. “… He’s great as the associate head coach. He’s great as somebody the players the trust, the players believe in, the players follow his lead. I trust him to the nth degree.”
- The Bucks will enter their playoff series with a huge rest advantage over the Heat, who had to go through two play-in games, observes Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. Most of Milwaukee’s regulars haven’t played since they clinched the No. 1 seed on April 5. “It’s kind of tricky because you might go and play the first game and you’re rusty,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. … “You might play the first game and you have so much energy and play great basketball. We’ll see.”
- Eric Nehm of The Athletic examines the matchups in the series and speculates on how Budenholzer will handle his rotation with the starters expected to see expanded playing time.