Khris Middleton injury update: Bucks star to miss Celtics streak with Grade 2 MCL sprain, report says

Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks has a Grade 2 MCL sprain and is not expected to return at any point in their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, according to The Athletic. Middleton could also miss the conference finals if the defending champion Bucks overtake the Celtics without him.

Middleton was injured in Game 2 of Milwaukee’s first-round series against the Chicago Bulls last Wednesday, when the team announced he would be reevaluated in about two weeks. The Bucks lost the game in which he was injured but won the next three, knocking out the Bulls with a 116-100 win on Wednesday. In those games, Grayson Allen stepped up his offense, scoring a total of 62 points on 34 field goal attempts, including 14 for 20 from 3-point range.

“We’ve talked a lot about the depth of the roster, the quality of the roster this season,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said after Game 5. “Other guys had chances and played well and our defense got tighter and we relied on that a lot those three games. But we have depth, we have a good group, we miss Khris – I don’t think anyone underestimates how important, effective he is for us. But while we haven’t, we have to be at our best in all areas.”

When the Bucks travel to Boston on Sunday, they’ll likely continue to pitch Bobby Portis in place of Middleton, but making up the hole in the lineup will be a lot tougher than against Chicago. The Celtics had the best defense in the NBA in the regular season, and Milwaukee will have to try to find holes without their leading pick-and-roll point guard. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday will be looking for the same type of assist defense that the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving saw in the first round, mitigated only somewhat by their team’s superior spacing.

Middleton’s absence will also be felt at the other end, where Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will have more favorable matchups to exploit. Expect Boston to target Portis in the pick-and-roll to try and spin the Bucks. Unlike the Bulls, the Celtics don’t play many non-shooters who can be ignored on the perimeter. Milwaukee will need reserve winger Pat Connaughton to hold together as well as he did in last year’s title chase.

During the regular season, Middleton averaged 20.1 points on 57.7 percent true shooting, plus 5.4 assists and 5.4 rebounds in 32.4 minutes. The Bucks outscored opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions with Middleton on the court, according to Cleaning The Glass, and outscored opponents by just 0.1 per 100 with him off the court.

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