Middleton will miss rest of Bulls-Bucks series


An awkward leg plant on a drive may have just changed the complexion of the Chicago Bulls' first-round playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Khris Middleton, who exited Wednesday's Game 2 early due to injury, is confirmed to have suffered an MCL sprain in his left knee and is officially out for Friday's Game 3 in Chicago, according to the Bucks' injury report.

The All-Star forward, according to the team, will be re-evaluated in two weeks, a timetable which would sideline him for the remainder of the series. The latest Bulls-Bucks can go is May 1. Middleton's re-evaluation date is May 5.

That obviously marks a massive loss for the defending champions. Middleton was the team's second-leading scorer during the regular season and is instrumental to Milwaukee's wing rotation as a bucket-getter, facilitator and defender. He played an outsized role in last season's title run, averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists across 23 games.

"You do not want to see anybody get hurt, especially at this time of year. Everybody wants to play and compete and be part of the team," Bulls center Nikola Vučević said of Middleton's injury on Wednesday. "I hope he's not really injured and he can play, because you want everyone to play and really compete. I hope it's nothing serious."

Unfortunately for Milwaukee, it is. While Middleton struggled to the tune of seven turnovers in the Bucks' Game 1 win, he appeared to be finding his footing in Game 2, which the Bulls eventually stole 114-110. When Middleton exited to the locker room at the 6:49 mark of the fourth quarter, he had 18 points, 8 assists and a game-high five made 3-pointers to his name.

Now, the onus falls on their other stars — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday — and role players — Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen — to fill the void.

"I'm sure Jrue and Giannis will get a little more usage. But their role guys are gonna step up," Alex Caruso said when asked about a potential Middleton absence. "We just gotta be ready for some guys to be aggressive that maybe weren't as aggressive the first two games."

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