Khris Middleton

Bucks’ Khris Middleton Ruled Out For Game 7

4:52pm: Middleton has been officially ruled out for Game 7, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

1:31pm: The Bucks are pessimistic about Khris Middleton‘s availability for Game 7 on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (hat tip to RealGM). Milwaukee originally seemed optimistic that Middleton could return, but that hope has since appeared to fade.

“Earlier this week, the folks I was talking to were giving me some optimism about Middleton playing this weekend, but that has not happened. That has not developed,” Windhorst said. “And now I would say there’s pessimism about Sunday, and frankly, I have been told that even if the Bucks advance to the conference finals, there’d be pessimism he’d be ready to start.”

Middleton suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his knee during Milwaukee’s first-round series against Chicago. He was the Bucks’ second-leading scorer this season, averaging 20.1 points on 44% shooting.

The winner of this series will advance to play the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee has played Miami in two straight postseasons, losing in 2020 and winning in 2021. The Celtics, meanwhile, last met the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020.

Should the Bucks advance, Game 1 of the next round will be played on Tuesday. After that, Game 2 will commence on Thursday, while Game 3 would shift back to Milwaukee on Saturday.

Central Notes: York, Middleton, Ball, Brown

An unexpected conversation with Kevin Durant left a huge impression on Pacers guard Gabe York, who finally reached the NBA last month after years of trying, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. York, 28, signed a two-way contract with Indiana and appeared in two games, including the season finale against the Nets.

“He comes up to me talking about, ‘Yo, I seen the struggle. I seen the journey that you went through to get here, bro, like for real, congrats. I know it’s been work,'” York said. “And just knowing that KD said that (expletive), I’m really like, ‘Wow, bro. People really watched (my journey).'”

After going undrafted out of Arizona in 2016, York spent time in Germany, Greece, Israel and Italy before joining the Pacers’ G League affiliate in Fort Wayne. He admits being nervous before his NBA debut, but that stopped once he got into the game.

“My nerves went away instantly and for whatever reason in my brain, in my mind it told itself, ‘It was like, ‘Nah, you belong here,'” York said. “It felt right. Nothing felt forced. Nothing felt too fast, too nothing. … When you’re in the G League or when you’re overseas, you just keep watching TV, keep watching the NBA and you just see stats and you see players, you think they’re bigger than what they are. And then once you get on the court with them, you’re like, ‘I played basketball for 20 years, bro.’ You need to guard me, (too).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Khris Middleton is making progress in his recovery from an MCL sprain in his left knee, but he’s not ready to start playing again, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Coach Mike Budenholzer, who expressed hope last week that Middleton might be able to return at some point during Milwaukee’s second-round series with the Celtics, told reporters today that Middleton has been able to do “a little” on the court, but there’s nothing significant to update.
  • After playing just 35 games this season, Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is focused on being healthier in the future, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suffered a bone bruise, then had surgery for a torn meniscus and didn’t play after January 14.
  • The Bulls are unlikely to bring back Tristan Thompson and Matt Thomas next season, but they face a more difficult decision on  Troy Brown Jr., Johnson states in a mailbag column. They have a June 29 deadline to extend a qualifying offer to Brown to make him a restricted free agent.

Bucks Notes: Middleton, Holiday, Matthews, Tucker, Hill

The Bucks have confirmed that Khris Middleton will miss Games 3 and 4 of their series with the Celtics, but they’re not speculating about his availability beyond that, according to Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. A report last week indicated that Middleton was likely to be sidelined for the entire second-round series and could be in jeopardy for the conference finals.

“We feel really good about where he is,” coach Mike Budenholzer said after Thursday’s practice. “We continue to hope he makes progress.” Budenholzer responded, “We’ll see,” when asked if Middleton could possibly play against Boston.

Middleton suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee on April 20 during Game 2 of Milwaukee’s first-round playoff series against Chicago. An examination was set for this week to reevaluate his condition and determine when he might be able to return. He averaged 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in two playoff games against the Bulls.

There’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews have become the destructive defensive duo they talked about forming nearly five years ago, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. When Holiday was with the Pelicans and became a free agent in the summer of 2017, Matthews tried to convince him to join the Mavericks. However, New Orleans made Holiday a five-year, $150MM offer that was too good to pass up. “It was pretty close,” he said. “But I ended up staying with New Orleans. Money wins.”
  • In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Heat forward P.J. Tucker says he felt disrespected by the Bucks’ offer after helping the team win an NBA title last season. Tucker added that he loved playing in Milwaukee, but management wasn’t willing to risk going into luxury tax territory to keep him. “For me, it wasn’t even about money,” he said. “It was more about respect because they basically told me to go find an offer and they would match it. After hearing that for me, I’m not coming back even if I had to take less money. To me, that was disrespectful. So, as soon as they said that, I told my agent Andre [Buck], basically, ‘We are moving on, whatever we get out of that, that’s what we’re doing.’”
  • George Hill is making progress toward returning from an abdominal injury, Nehm tweets“He’s getting close. We’ll see how he responds to today,” Budenholzer said on Thursday. “He pretty much did all of practice and did some extra, a play group, afterwards. I think we just gotta see how he comes out of that.”

Khris Middleton Expected To Miss Second-Round Series

APRIL 28: Middleton is expected to miss the Bucks’ entire second-round series vs. Boston, Shams Charania of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter). According to Charania, Middleton’s recovery timeline would also jeopardize his availability for at least the start of the Eastern Conference Finals, if Milwaukee makes it that far.

APRIL 27: The Bucks may have to get through a second-round series without Khris Middleton, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said in an appearance on “NBA Today” (video link).

Middleton, who suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee during Game 2 of Milwaukee’s playoff series with the Bulls, is scheduled to be reevaluated next week, roughly 14 days after the injury. However, sources tell Wojnarowski that the exam is likely to just be a “benchmark,” and there’s no expectation that Middleton will return to action right away.

“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. “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.”

Middleton played a huge role in helping the Bucks capture the NBA title last season, averaging 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists during the playoffs. He followed that up by being selected to the All-Star game this year for the third time in his career.

Middleton recently told Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he’s optimistic about returning soon, but he has confidence in his teammates if the recovery process takes longer.

“We did it last year as a group,” Middleton said. “When Giannis (Antetokounmpo) went down (in the Eastern Conference Finals) everybody stepped up and played a major part, so I expect nothing less. I feel like guys are ready to step up and play. They know right now it’s win or go home time.”

Central Notes: Middleton, Ball, Caruso, Sexton

How will the Bucks survive their first-round series against the Bulls without Khris Middleton? Jrue Holiday needs to ramp up his production, Eric Nehm of The Athletic opines. Middleton will be out at least two weeks with an MCL sprain and he’s the only big wing in the rotation, Nehm notes. Coach Mike Budenholzer could go a number of ways with his starting lineup, from Grayson Allen to Pat Connaughton to even Bobby Portis, which would give Milwaukee a jumbo look.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball has already been ruled out for the postseason and there’s still reasons for long-term concern, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Ball has continued to deal with discomfort in his left knee and coach Billy Donovan isn’t sure when he’ll be able to begin an offseason training program. “If it gets to a place where he’s still having discomfort after a longer period of time, I don’t know what the next step would be,” Donovan said.
  • Added last offseason on a four-year, $37MM pact, Alex Caruso is paying big dividends for the Bulls in the playoffs, Sam Smith of the team’s website writes. Caruso’s defense was the underrated reason why Chicago won Game 2 in Milwaukee. “He made a couple of big threes, had a couple of rebounds that were big. … He’s really a great guy because he will not shortcut or rest on the court, so to speak,” Donovan said. “He’s going to give you everything he has. He’s smart, knows what he has to do, is physical defensively for our team and he gives you everything he has.”
  • Multiple sources tell Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the Pistons could make a run at Cavaliers restricted free agent Collin Sexton this summer to pair him up with Cade Cunningham in Detroit’s backcourt. The Pistons could have the most cap space in the league this summer but Fedor is uncertain if anyone will give Sexton an offer sheet that Cleveland wouldn’t match, noting Sexton’s season was a washout after he tore the meniscus in his left knee 11 games into the campaign.

Bucks’ Khris Middleton Out At Least Two Weeks

6:55pm: The team confirmed Wojnarowski’s report in a press release, adding that Middleton will receive daily treatment and evaluation prior to the next status update in approximately two weeks.

5:35pm: Bucks All-Star wing Khris Middleton has an MCL sprain in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the first-round series against the Bulls, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, Wojnarowski adds, and is sidelined indefinitely, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Middleton’s injury could have a major impact on the outcome of the Eastern Conference playoffs and seriously jeopardizes Milwaukee’s chances of defending its crown.

Middleton suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Game 2 on Wednesday and underwent an MRI on Thursday.

“Obviously Khris is one of the best players on the team,” MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo said after the game. “If he’s not able to be with us, it going to be a tremendous loss for us.”

The third-seeded Bucks lost home-court advantage with their Game 2 loss and now must defeat the sixth-seeded Bulls three times without their second-best player in order to advance. Middleton was rather quiet in Game 1, contributing 11 points and eight assists while committing seven turnovers. He had 18 points and eight assists in 33 minutes during Game 2 before he was hurt.

Middleton played a monstrous role in last year’s playoffs, averaging 23.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG and 5.1 APG during Milwaukee’s 23-game run. Without him, the Bucks will have to squeeze more production out of Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton, while Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday must shoulder even more of the scoring and playmaking burden.

Milwaukee did have some positive news on the injury front. Bobby Portis, who sustained a right eye abrasion in the first quarter of Game 2 and didn’t return, is not on the Game 3 injury report, Jim Owczarski of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets.

Bucks’ Middleton, Portis Injured In Game 2 Loss

The Bucks lost two key contributors to injuries over the course of their Game 2 loss to Chicago on Wednesday.

All-Star forward Khris Middleton left in the fourth quarter due to a left knee injury later diagnosed as a sprained MCL, according to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, while big man Bobby Portis suffered a right eye abrasion in the first quarter and didn’t return, per an Associated Press report.

Middleton will undergo an MRI on his injured knee on Thursday to further assess the extent of the damage and to get a clearer sense of his potential timeline for a return.

A player’s recovery timetable from a sprained MCL can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but it’s generally measured in weeks rather than just days. Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Kelly Olynyk were among the players who missed more than a month this season due to MCL sprains — the Bucks will be hoping that Middleton’s sprain isn’t as significant.

“Obviously Khris is one of the best players on the team,” MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo said after the game, per Owczarski. “If he’s not able to be with us, it going to be a tremendous loss for us. But at the end of the day, we’ve got guys that hopefully can step up and we can still do our job and compete and enjoy the game, and hopefully it’s not something very serious and he can come back and join us very soon.”

As for Portis, he left the game in the first quarter after taking a hit to the face from Tristan Thompson. Bucks assistant Darvin Ham said during an in-game interview that 27-year-old was “having problems with the vision in his right eye” (video link via Bally Sports Wisconsin). However, head coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game that the expectation is Portis “should be fine with some time,” according to Steve Megargee of The Associated Press.

In other injury news out of Milwaukee, it sounds like backup point guard George Hill, who missed the first two games of the series due to an abdominal strain, won’t be back for Game 3 — Budenholzer told reporters prior to Wednesday’s game that the Bucks “don’t expect him in the short term,” writes Jamal Collier of ESPN.

“We’ll see how he progresses over the next I’d say handful of days or more,” Budenholzer said of Hill.

We’ll wait for further updates on Middleton and Portis to see just how shorthanded the Bucks will be when they resume their series vs. the Bulls on Friday in Chicago, tied at one game apiece.

Injury Notes: Randle, Bucks, Pistons, Jazz, Simmons

Knicks forward Julius Randle, still dealing with a quad injury, has been ruled out for Saturday’s game against Cleveland, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who tweets that the team is considering Randle day-to-day. For the time being, there are no plans to shut down Randle for the rest of the season, Katz adds. He missed three games with the same injury last week.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks will be without several key players on Friday vs. the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back set. According to the team (via Twitter), Giannis Antetokounmpo (right knee soreness), Jrue Holiday (left ankle sprain), Khris Middleton (left wrist soreness), and Brook Lopez (return to competition reconditioning) are among the players who will be inactive.
  • Cory Joseph (left lumbar spine strain), Marvin Bagley III (left hip strain), and Kelly Olynyk (rest) won’t play for the Pistons on Friday against Oklahoma City, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic. The two teams are neck-and-neck in the lottery standings, so neither front office will be particularly motivated to win the game.
  • The Jazz got some reinforcements on Thursday when Bojan Bogdanovic returned from a nine-game absence and Danuel House played after missing eight consecutive games, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Both forwards had positive plus-minus ratings in a win over the Lakers that snapped Utah’s five-game losing streak.
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link) provided another minor update on Ben Simmons, reporting that the Nets guard has resumed “light” on-court workouts and still hopes to return in time for the playoffs. Charania’s colleague at The Athletic, Joe Vardon, reported earlier today that Simmons is unlikely to be ready for the start of the playoffs.

Injury Notes: Anunoby, DeRozan, Bucks, Iguodala, Pistons

Raptors forward OG Anunoby returned to action on Thursday after missing 15 games due to a fractured finger. He immediately reentered Toronto’s starting lineup and scored 14 points in an important win over Cleveland.

While a current Raptor returned from an injury on Thursday, a former Raptor headed to the sidelines with an ailment of his own. Bulls star DeMar DeRozan missed the team’s game against New Orleans due to a left groin strain, one that head coach Billy Donovan referred to as “mild,” per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I think he was experiencing some tightness (there) for a little bit, but nothing more than tightness,” Donovan said. “And then I think — I don’t know if it was a specific play — but (he) definitely started to feel it a little bit more than just being tight after (Tuesday’s game).

“DeMar knows his body better than anybody else. I think he felt like, ‘OK this could get into something else a little bit more significant if I don’t take care of this.’ That’s why they wanted to do the imaging and they found out it’s a mild strain really all it is right now… We just don’t want it to turn into something bigger.”

As we wait to see if DeRozan will miss any more time, here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Bucks forward Khris Middleton has missed a couple games due to a wrist injury, but head coach Mike Budenholzer expressed optimism that Middleton will be available in Memphis on Saturday, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Budenholzer is less certain about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s status for Saturday’s game after the Bucks star sat out on Thursday with right knee soreness, but said Antetokounmpo’s injury shouldn’t be “anything long-term or significant” (Twitter link via Nehm).
  • Andre Iguodala, who has missed the Warriors‘ last 19 games due to a back issue, has been upgraded to questionable for Friday’s game in Atlanta, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Even if Iguodala isn’t able to play tonight, it sounds like he’s very close to returning.
  • Pistons rookie wing Chris Smith, who has spent the season on a two-way contract recovering from an ACL tear, is undergoing another surgery and won’t make his NBA debut this season, head coach Dwane Casey said on Wednesday (Twitter link via James Edwards III of The Athletic). Smith’s two-way deal runs through 2022/23, but that doesn’t guarantee Detroit will hang onto him for next season.
  • Pistons rookie forward Isaiah Livers entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and missed Wednesday’s game after bumping heads with Luka Garza in practice, per Casey (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). While Livers was diagnosed with a concussion and has been ruled out for Friday’s game too, Garza was OK and didn’t have to enter the protocol.

Bucks Notes: Giannis, Portis, Middleton, Bembry

Reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was recently interviewed by Sam Amick of The Athletic and provided some insight into last year’s championship with the Bucks, this season’s MVP race, and a few other topics. Here are a couple highlights:

On being more focused on winning another championship versus a third MVP:

“Nah, I want another championship. You know, like, the joy that I felt when I won the MVP was unbelievable. I was with my family. I wish my (late) Dad was there. That was an unbelievable feeling. Grateful. But the joy that I felt when I won a championship, there’s no comparing. There’s no comparing (an MVP) to the joy of being on the bus and seeing 200,000 people celebrating — White, Black, Hispanic, or whatever the case may be. Everybody was celebrating, and you’re giving everybody that joy.

“There were people that had never seen a championship for 50 years. (They’d say), ‘The last time I saw the championship, I was two years old.’ You know? That’s a different type of joy. It’s not just me being able to win the award. The whole city won an award. That’s what I want, you know? And hopefully, God can bless me and give me that. I’ll do whatever I can do to do it.”

On playing through a hyperextended knee, which could have been catastrophic:

“It killed me. Game 1, there was a play where Jae Crowder shot and I stepped on his leg. And you know how he does this kick thing, and I literally tried to avoid him and he kicked me on my leg and my leg hyperextended (for the second time — Antetokounmpo hyperextended the same leg in the Eastern Conference Finals against Atlanta).

“What basically happened is that if my leg had hyperextended one more time…(claps hands) I was done. There’s nothing to cut that was in there. It was torn already. It was out — (the piece that) protected me from an MCL or ACL (tear). There’s a thing (in your leg) that protects you when you hyperextend (your knee) that doesn’t let you go all the way back. So that thing was torn. So if I had gone all the way back again, that’d be it for me.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen where people wear a big brace on your knee, like Goran Dragic wears — a big brace. They (the Bucks) told me, ‘Giannis, Tim Duncan wore this (so) wear this.’ I said, ‘Heeeell naw.’ They said, ‘Giannis, you need to wear this.’ And they had made one specifically for me. I said, ‘Hell. No. I’m not wearing that s—.'”

Amick’s full interview with Antetokounmpo can be found here.

Here’s more on the Bucks:

  • After starting 57 of 63 games this season, Bobby Portis could have griped about being replaced by incumbent center Brook Lopez (recently returned from back surgery), but Portis says he’s fine with coming off the bench. “Right now is not the time for nobody to be talking about minutes or things like that. It’s all about the team. It’s all about trying to win. Be the best Bucks basketball team we can be,” Portis said, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “Eleven games left, just trying to play our best basketball. Like I said, in life, sacrifice is always the biggest thing. Obviously, everybody’s role is going to be shifted a little bit, but that’s part of the plan, part of playing a team sport.”
  • Khris Middleton will miss his second straight game Thursday against Washington due to a sore left wrist, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Middleton fell on the wrist last Saturday against Minnesota and coach Mike Budenholzer said the team hopes it’s a short-term injury.
  • DeAndre’ Bembry underwent successful surgery Wednesday to repair his torn right ACL and MCL, the team announced (via Twitter). Bembry suffered the injury on March 12 and will miss the remainder of the season, and likely most of next season as well.