Friday morning brought a bit of good news for the Bucks, two days after clinching home-court advantage throughout the postseason. From The Athletic’s Shams Charania:
Bucks star Khris Middleton underwent an MRI on his knee Thursday and he is expected to rehab for the next week or so in hopes of being ready for start of the playoffs, sources say.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 7, 2023
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Per sources, Middleton’s right knee MRI came back “clean” and he’s “expected to use the next week or so to rehab the knee in hopes of being ready for the playoffs beginning April 15.” In the first thirty seconds of Wednesday’s win over Chicago, the three-time All-Star came down on it oddly after putting up a fadeaway:
Though he was visibly limping up and down the court after this occurred, Middleton remained in the game for nearly eight full minutes, through multiple timeouts/stoppages. He then subbed out and headed back to the locker room with members of Milwaukee’s training staff, walking pretty normally.
Postgame, coach Mike Budenholzer called it a “re-aggravation” of the right knee soreness that kept Middleton out for over a month earlier in the season. After returning to the court in early December from off-season wrist surgery, he appeared in seven ho-hum games before appearing on the injured list ahead of their December 17th game. He wouldn’t take the court again until January 23rd, then underwent a good dozen games on a minute restriction. Since March, he’s averaged just over 30 minutes per game.
It should be noted, as told by The Athletic’s Eric Nehm back in January, that Middleton has dealt with recurring soreness in his right knee since back in college. Yes, it never kept him out for nearly this long at any point in seasons prior, but it’s not exactly new. Also important to mention is that the MCL sprain that knocked him out of the 2022 Playoffs was to his left knee.
This is probably the best-case scenario for the Bucks; their seed is secure, they’re resting everyone for tonight’s game, and they’ll have at least five full days off following Sunday’s 82nd game while the play-in occurs. That’s time not just for Middleton to rehab, but also Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen.
Though Milwaukee has won three straight, each came with an early injury to a significant member of their rotation. Before Middleton’s knee tweak on Wednesday, both Allen and Connaughton sprained their right ankles in consecutive first halves on Sunday and Tuesday. Bud is optimistic that Allen will also be available to begin the first round. As for Connaughton, he was initially listed as doubtful ahead of the Bulls game, and Bud was hopeful it isn’t serious. For what it’s worth, he appeared to be jumping around with glee as the Bucks made their move to claim the top seed in Wednesday’s second half.
Here’s to having everyone healthy in a week or so, and to no other Bucks going down in these two meaningless (for the Bucks, away) regular-season games that remain.