Khris Middleton Injury, Game 2 Win Change Expectation for Bulls in Bucks Series

Adam WellsApril 21, 2022

Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Wesley Matthews during the second half of Game 2 of their first round NBA playoff basketball game Wednesday, April 20, 2022, in Milwaukee. The Bulls won 114-110 to tie the series at 1-1. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

The Chicago Bulls came alive Wednesday night with a 114-110 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference playoffs to even the series at one game apiece.

While the Bulls were celebrating their victory, the big story coming out of the game was a knee injury to Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton.

Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the game that Middleton suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee. He will undergo an MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury.

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

The Bulls have a real chance of beating the Bucks if Khris Middleton misses the rest of the series. Dude dropped 40 points in Game 4 of the Finals. So crucial with his scoring and playmaking. Big stretch for Jrue, Giannis has to do even more otherworldly stuff. Bulls have a shot.

Dr. Nirav Pandya, M.D. @DrNiravPandya

Tough injury for Khris Middleton. Return to play timelines are based on the degree of sprain (Grade 1-3). Grade 1 usually = 1-2 weeks, Grade 2 = 4-6 weeks, Grade 3 = 8-12 weeks. Taking the "MCL sprain" diagnosis by itself, players miss on average 30 day. Surgery is rare. <a href="https://t.co/zpWM3fGDrK">https://t.co/zpWM3fGDrK</a>

Middleton has been erratic in this series, scoring a total of 29 points and committing 11 turnovers in the two games prior to his injury.

The Bucks also lost Bobby Portis in the first quarter when he was elbowed in the face by Tristan Thompson when they were fighting for a rebound.

Budenholzer told reporters the team anticipates Portis "should be fine with some time and that he should be good."

DeMar DeRozan had his second 40-point game against the defending NBA champions in the past two weeks. He dropped 41 (16-of-31 from the field) on Wednesday after going for 40 against them April 5.

DeRozan's final bucket of the game was a driving layup with less than 20 seconds remaining to seal the win for Chicago.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

DeMar DeRozan erupted for 41 points to ice Game 2 vs. the Bucks 🥶 <a href="https://t.co/EX9zqaSHmC">pic.twitter.com/EX9zqaSHmC</a>

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Last 3 Bulls players with 40 Pts in a playoff win<br><br>Wednesday -- DeMar DeRozan vs MIL<br>2011 -- Derrick Rose (Gm 3 vs ATL)<br>1998 -- Michael Jordan (Gm 6 vs UTAH)<br><br>All 3 of them were on the road. <a href="https://t.co/nRbwnxMMGD">pic.twitter.com/nRbwnxMMGD</a>

StatMuse @statmuse

Bulls players with 40+ points in a playoff game:<br><br>Michael Jordan (38)<br>Derrick Rose (1)<br>Ben Gordon (1)<br>Flynn Robinson (1)<br><br>And now, DeMar DeRozan. <a href="https://t.co/A4xzJfuR1n">pic.twitter.com/A4xzJfuR1n</a>

Alex Caruso was fantastic as a playmaker and defender for the Bulls. He had 10 assists in a game for just the third time in his career and first time since April 2019, when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Alex Kennedy @AlexKennedyNBA

Alex Caruso to Chicago may legitimately be one of the most important and impactful signings of last offseason.

StatMuse @statmuse

Alex Caruso tonight:<br><br>9 PTS<br>10 AST<br>2 STL<br>2 BLK<br>3 3PT<br>+17 (team high)<br><br>Locked up the Finals MVP. <a href="https://t.co/1Qjpo4GiiI">pic.twitter.com/1Qjpo4GiiI</a>

Jason Gallagher @jga41agher

Alex Caruso this game <a href="https://t.co/tT75lihvf7">pic.twitter.com/tT75lihvf7</a>

The Bulls didn't inspire a lot of confidence about their postseason hopes with how they performed down the stretch. They were 8-15, and their defense allowed 116.2 points per game after February's All-Star break.

They have made things difficult on the Bucks through the first two games of the series. Milwaukee only scored 93 points and committed 21 turnovers in its Game 1 victory.

With Middleton potentially out of action for an extended period of time, the Bulls have an opening to steal this series from the Bucks.

The series shifts to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET. That will mark the Bulls' first home playoff game since April 28, 2017.