untitled-design-80.png
usatsi

The Milwaukee Bucks have been hit hard by injuries this season and, unfortunately, it appears that trend will continue. During the third quarter of their 117-103 loss to the Boston Celtics on Monday night, All-Star forward Khris Middleton left the game with a hyperextended left knee and did not return. 

With just over a minute to play in the third, Dennis Schroder missed a 3-pointer from the left wing and Middleton went up for the rebound in traffic. As he landed, his knee buckled and he collapsed to the ground in a heap, where he remained for a brief period of time. When he got back up to his feet, he was moving with a noticeable limp and very gingerly made his way up the floor. 

It quickly became clear that he couldn't stay in the game, and he took a foul to stop play at the first opportunity. He didn't even bother to stop at the bench as he hobbled off the court, and went straight back to the Bucks' locker room. The team later announced that the injury was officially a hyperextended knee. 

Given the Bucks' track record of being cautious, coupled with the fact that Middleton is coming off a grueling year that included a Finals run and an Olympic gold medal, it's a safe bet that Middleton is going to miss some time. How much, and how severe the injury is, however, remains to be seen. 

"We'll know more tomorrow, but I think there's some hope that it's not serious," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "But you've got to weigh it and give it time."

In any case, it's another blow that the Bucks simply don't need right now. They're already without Donte DiVincenzo, who hasn't played all season, and Brook Lopez, who is sidelined indefinitely after back surgery. Veteran reserves George Hill (knee), Wesley Matthews (health and safety protocols) and Semi Ojeleye (calf) are also out at the moment. 

It's clear that the Bucks are still one of the best teams in the league when healthy, they just haven't been able to get there often enough. Middleton himself missed eight games earlier this season after testing positive for COVID-19, and Jrue Holiday missed six games with heel and ankle issues. They've already used 250 different five-man lineups this season, and the big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday have played together in just 16 of their 29 games including Monday night. 

The good news is the Bucks are 13-3 including when those three play together and have a plus-12.7 net rating when they're on the floor. However, when at least one of them is out, the Bucks are 5-8. After slipping to third place in the Eastern Conference after Monday night's loss, the Bucks will hope that Middleton isn't out for too long.