Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton will undergo rehab for his injured knee next week to prepare for the NBA playoffs, according to sources.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Middleton had undergone an MRI exam on his right knee on Thursday, and the results “came back clean.” The rehab is expected to get him ready for the playoffs starting April 15.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer said Middleton had injured the same knee in the past, and his current knee issue was a “reactivation” of that old injury. Middleton missed 18 games from December 17 to January 21 because of his knee problem. Budenholzer put him either at the front or back end of back-to-back sets since his return.
However, during Wednesday’s game with the Chicago Bulls, Middleton left the court after just eight minutes, citing soreness in his knee. The Bucks won 105-92 despite Middleton’s departure.
Before the game, Middleton answered questions regarding his knee injury, saying it was “nothing too crazy.” The player said it was a similar problem that he has experienced in preparation for a new season.
“I know it’s kind of vague, but the truth of it is that’s all it was,” Middleton said at that time. “Just the swelling and all of that, we couldn’t get it to go away. My leg just wasn’t strong enough or conditioned enough to withstand it.”
Middleton’s participation in the playoffs is critical for Milwaukee. The forward was integral to the Bucks’ successful championship campaign two seasons ago. His versatility and scoring ability help make Milwaukee one of the strongest teams in the NBA and a contender for the championship this year.
NBA analysts said Milwaukee still have the two healthy top players, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, who could push the team into the second round. However, the team will need Middleton in his top condition for the following rounds as it will meet more formidable opponents.
The Bucks will face the still-undecided No. 8 Eastern Conference seed for the first round of the playoffs — either the Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors or Chicago. Milwaukee will play against Toronto on April 9 for its last regular season game, but the team’s spot in playoffs is guaranteed since it already clinched homecourt advantage.
Middleton’s performance has declined since last year’s playoffs because of his injuries. The 31-year-old suffered a Grade 2 medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain in the first round against the Bulls and was benched for the rest of the postseason. He also missed the first 20 games this season after having surgery to fix a torn ligament in his wrist.
The three-time All-Star player is recording an average of 15.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. According to analysts, the Bucks outperformed their opponents by 6.5 points per 100 possessions whenever Middleton was on the court this season.
Grayson Allen may miss first round of playoffs
There is a possibility that Milwaukee will not have guard Grayson Allen during the first round of the playoffs. Allen sustained an ankle sprain during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers and was declared unavailable for the remainder of the regular season.
Budenholzer said that Allen’s ankle injury was more severe than anticipated. The team will observe the shooting guard’s progress in the days leading up to the playoffs. The coach added that the team had already prepared several “scenarios” based on Allen’s availability for the game.
Goran Dragic, Joe Ingles and Pat Connaughton are among the candidates who will likely take over the shooting guard spot.
Allen has become one of Milwaukee’s best three-point shooters this season. Allen started 70 out of 72 games in the 2022-23 season, recording an average of 39.9 percent in three-point shots.