Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton get clutch status upgrade vs. Celtics

The Milwaukee Bucks are in a brutal slump at the moment, losing four in a row and going 3-7 in their last 10 games. While they will likely head into the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the East, Doc Rivers’ squad must figure it out in a hurry. It won’t get any easier on Tuesday as the Bucks face the NBA-best Boston Celtics at Fiserv Forum in a must-watch showdown. Luckily, after both Giannis Antetokounmpo (hamstring) and Khris Middleton (quad) landed on the injury report, they have been since cleared to play, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

Bucks need to turn it around

Milwaukee Bucks center Khris Middleton (22), guard Damian Lillard (0) and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) looks on during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks at Fiserv ForumBenny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Milwaukee is down bad. Losing to the New York Knicks on Sunday is one thing, but prior to that, the Bucks fell to the Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies, and Washington Wizards, three teams that have absolutely no business beating them.

Giannis has been playing just as much as usual despite the left hamstring tendinopathy. However, the reason he was initially listed as questionable on Tuesday was likely because this is the front half of a back-to-back. At this point in the season, the Bucks cannot be risking his health. The playoffs are around the corner and this squad needs The Greek Freak healthy. He’s having another dominant campaign, posting averages of 30.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 6.5 assists on 61.1% shooting from the field. Antetokounmpo is the backbone of the Bucks.

As for Middleton, he’s suited up 52 times but has dealt with several health issues. An ankle injury kept him out for a while and the veteran exited Sunday after losing a tooth. Right now, it appears Middleton has a quad contusion. Nothing too serious. The 32-year-old is averaging 15 points, 4.6 boards, and 5.2 dimes per night while shooting 38% from downtown.

Rivers held a player’s meeting with the Bucks’ top guys on Saturday and let them all air out their frustrations amid this latest skid. Early on against New York, it appeared to be working, with Milwaukee coming out strong. But, they proceeded to be outscored 72-48 in the final two quarters.

It didn’t help losing Middleton, who Coach Doc truly feels for as he dealt with another injury-riddled season, via The Athletic:

“Khris was great to begin to the game; he was absolutely fantastic,” Rivers said after the game. “You just feel bad for him. The guy can’t catch a break. I mean, what are the odds you go into a game, ‘OK, tonight, it will be my tooth gets knocked out.’

“He’s having one of those seasons right now, but that’s OK because it can all turn for him. I thought he came with great spirit tonight, too, so just tough luck.”

Sunday was only the eighth time with Rivers in charge where Giannis, Damian Lillard, and Middleton were on the floor together. Even when Adrian Griffin was coach, the Bucks’ big 3 barely shared the court. Despite that, Milwaukee still sits at 47-31 on the year.

The Bucks will be hoping to end their losing ways on Tuesday against Jayson Tatum and the C’s. The good thing is they will be able to take on the challenge with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in the fold.

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