Woj: Bucks' Khris Middleton in Line to Return from Knee Injury for East Finals

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 12, 2022

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 03: Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks looks on during the fourth quarter of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on May 03, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Bucks 109-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from clinching a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals and perhaps clearing the way for Khris Middleton to return from his knee injury.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski revealed as much during Thursday's episode of NBA Countdown and even said he hasn't fully been ruled out for a return in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics even though it appears unlikely:

"There's been some speculation about the possibility of him returning in this series. He's listed out right now for Game 6. I'm told it's unlikely he plays Game 6 even Game 7—not fully been ruled out, although that's what it says on the injury report. But I'm told he's making very good progress. If the Bucks were to win this series, close out the Celtics, I think you could very much expect to see Khris Middleton back for the Bucks in the conference finals."

Middleton suffered the injury during Game 2 of Milwaukee's first-round series against the Chicago Bulls.

The setback seemed to put that series in doubt since Chicago won Game 2 and stole home-court advantage, but the Bucks responded by winning three straight without their second-leading scorer.

A showdown with Boston has been much more difficult with the two teams trading wins through the first five games. The physical series has surely taken its toll on players such as Wesley Matthews, Grayson Allen and George Hill, who have larger roles without Middleton, so getting the three-time All-Star back figures to be key.

Fortunately for the Bucks, they still have Giannis Antetokounmpo.

He has staked his claim to the title of best player in the world currently while averaging 33.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, seven assists and 1.2 blocks per game against a stout Boston defense. He is consistently putting Milwaukee on his back without Middleton in the lineup and has reached the 40-point mark in two of the last three contests.

Antetokounmpo isn't working alone, though, as Jrue Holiday made two monster defensive plays in the final 10 seconds of Wednesday's 110-107 win in Game 5 with a block and steal on Marcus Smart.

Holiday also added 24 points and eight assists and will need to continue being the team's No. 2 option until Middleton returns.

It might take just one win to ensure that return happens.