Middleton could have stayed out even if the Bucks had advanced

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton might not have been available for the Eastern Conference Finals even if the Milwaukee Bucks had made it that far.

The three-time All-Star missed the Bucks’ last 10 games after

“I don’t know if I would have been ready for tomorrow,” Middleton said Monday. “I don’t know if I would have been ready if he had gone to Game 7. It was almost a day-to-day thing, just waking up and seeing how I felt, seeing if there was any swelling there. -in it, and there is a point where you have to make sure that the ligament is completely healed.

Middleton’s absence was an unfortunate turn of events for the Bucks, who benefited from injuries to other teams during their

for two games in the Eastern Finals, but returned

“It just wasn’t our time,” forward Bobby Portis said. “All teams that go through a playoff streak get lucky along the way. We had our chance last year in some series that we went through with teams that suffered injuries.

Boston was missing forward/center Robert Williams the last four games with a bone bruise in his right knee, but that only underscored the Celtics’ superior depth.

Williams was replaced in the starting lineup by Grant Williams, who scored a career-high 27 points and tied a Game 7 record on Sunday by sinking seven 3-pointers in the

This forced the Bucks to depend even more on Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday.

Antetokounmpo was the first player to have 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists in a playoff series. Holiday, who attempted 21+ shots in a game only twice during the regular season, averaged 22 shots per game in the Celtics’ series.

“If we had Khris, it’s not that I’m trying to make excuses, but maybe another story,” Antetokounmpo said after Sunday’s game. “But we gave everything we had. The guys got together. We realise, ‘Hey, we have to improve. We have to improve as a team. We must want it more. We have to work on our games. “

They also need to improve their 3-point shooting in the playoffs.

Milwaukee ranked fourth in the league with 3 points per game (14.1) and fifth in 3-point percentage (36.6%) during the regular season. The Bucks made 38% of their 3-point attempts in their first-round series.

That all changed in the second round as the Celtics made nearly twice as many 3-pointers as the Bucks. Milwaukee went 57 of 204 (27.9%) from beyond the arc while Boston was 110 of 292 (37.6%).

The Bucks’ challenge is to find the right guys to complete the trio of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday.

Milwaukee depth took a hit with the

“In the first game, I had three good open ones and knocked them down,” Allen said. “It was like (Games) 2-7, easy catch-and-shoot, spots were very rare and very hard to find.”

At the trade deadline,

The Bucks should continue to compete for titles as long as their top three guys stay healthy, although age is a concern.

Antetokounmpo, 27, was one of the youngest players in the Bucks’ rotation this season. Holiday turns 32 next month and Middleton turns 31 this summer. Brook Lopez is 34, Wesley Matthews 35 and George Hill 36.

This exit from the playoffs should add motivation.

“Hopefully right now, instead of thinking we’ve lost something, we can win and learn in order to put ourselves in a position to win another championship,” Antetokounmpo said.


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