Will Khris Middleton's knee injury be an issue for Bucks? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
For the second consecutive season, the Milwaukee Bucks are dealing with an injury to one of their best players.
Bucks forward Khris Middleton exited Wednesday's game against the Chicago Bulls in the first quarter due to right knee soreness and didn't return. As The Athletic's Eric Nehm pointed out, Middleton appeared to come up limping while attempting a fadeaway jumper on the Bucks' first offensive possession. He stayed in the game for about eight minutes before leaving for good.
After the game, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Middleton re-aggravated the same right knee injury that has bothered him for most of the season, and that it's unclear whether Middleton will play in the team's final two games.
This is obviously a concerning development for the Bucks, who felt Middleton's absence in the 2022 postseason when they fell to the Boston Celtics in the second round. Middleton has only played in 33 of Milwaukee's 80 games this season -- he missed 18 straight games earlier this season with a right knee injury -- so it's fair to wonder whether he'll hold up throughout a deep playoff run.
Milwaukee will have more than a week off between its regular-season finale and the start of Round 1, so it's possible the team could be fully healthy by then. It's also hard to project how healthy both the Celtics and Bucks would be if they were to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, which would be in late May.
That said, the Bucks' injuries -- especially Middleton's -- are worth monitoring as the Celtics eye a second consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.