Windhorst: Khris Middleton Unlikely to Return from Injury for Bucks-Celtics Game 7

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 14, 2022

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - APRIL 08: Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball against the Detroit Pistons during the third quarter at Little Caesars Arena on April 08, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. 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 Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
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Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton reportedly isn't expected to be ready to return from injury for Game 7 of the Bucks' second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

According to ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst (h/t RealGM.com), sources expressed optimism earlier this week regarding Middleton being able to return over the weekend, but things have "not developed" and there is now pessimism about him playing Sunday.

Windhorst added that even if the Bucks beat the Celtics and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, there is pessimism that Middleton would be ready for the start of that series.

Middleton suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee during Milwaukee's first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, and he hasn't played at all during the second round.

Despite not having the services of Middleton, the defending NBA champions have persevered, splitting the first six games of their second-round playoff series with the second-seeded Celtics.

Milwaukee had a chance to close it out Friday night in Game 6, but Boston came through and forced Game 7 with a 108-95 triumph.

Getting Middleton back would provide the Bucks with a massive boost given how much he has meant to the team in recent years.

The 30-year-old has been named an All-Star in three of the past four seasons and has averaged over 20 points per game in each of the past three campaigns as well.

In 66 games this season, Middleton averaged 20.1 points, 5.4 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 three-pointers made and 1.2 steals per contest. He also shot 44.3 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.

It was a solid follow-up to what he did during the Bucks' playoff run last season, when he averaged 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.6 three-pointers made and 1.5 steals in 23 postseason games.

Middleton appeared in just two games during the Chicago series before getting injured, so head coach Mike Budenholzer has had to make do without him for nearly the entire playoff run.

Usual suspects like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday have stepped up, but the Bucks have also gotten increased contributions from Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, Grayson Allen and Brook Lopez.

If Middleton can't go in Game 7, then the Bucks will likely need a big game or two out of their role players in order to get past a Celtics team led by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford.