"Right now I think the main improvement in my defense has just been the coaches," Middleton said, crediting coach Jason Kidd and his staff. "They've been teaching me defensive schemes, how to guard guys, how to use my length.
Coach Jason Kidd is ecstatic about Middleton's defense.
"He's just comfortable," Kidd said. "What we've asked him to do defensively is guard the best perimeter guy. Then offensively, we've asked him to score the ball, be looking for shots or making plays.
Middleton has flirted with double-double status multiple times in Feburary, including grabbing nine rebounds in a 25-point performance on Feb. 2. He finally came through with double-digit rebounds Wednesday while chipping in three assists and two steals in 30 minutes. The Bucks have won eight of their last nine games heading into the All-Star break.
"I've been shooting the ball well but it just comes from playing within the offense and letting my teammates find me," Middleton said. "I'm not trying to be overly aggressive; I'm not trying to force things."
Middleton credits his hard work to his recent streak of strong play.
"You have to play your game in this league. If you miss 10 in a row, you have to believe the next 10 are going to fall for you. Confidence is a huge thing in this league."
Middleton, who is averaging 11.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 45 games this season, isn't giving any thought to his upcoming free agency this summer, when he will become a restricted free agent.
"That's so far ahead," Middleton said. "I don't even think about that at all. I just know what I need to do day in and day out and game-by-game. I have to do what I can to help this team win."
Middleton shot 10-17 from the field, including 3-4 from beyond the arc. He sunk both of his free throws, finishing with a team-high 25 points. Middleton just missed out on a double-double during the contest, coming up with nine rebounds. He also added one assist and three steals.
Middleton shot 9-14 from the field, including 3-5 from beyond the arc. He also added five rebounds and three steals during the contest.
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