Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton expected to return to Bucks lineup

For the first time in a long time, the Milwaukee Bucks are expected to have their All-Stars on the court at the same time on Monday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middelton are both listed as probable for Monday's game against the Detroit Pistons. Middleton has been sidelined for the last 18 games with knee soreness. He previously missed Milwaukee's first 20 games of the season with a wrist injury and has played in just seven games this season.

Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, has missed five straight games with his own knee injury. Head coach Mike Budenholzer previously described his absence as precautionary.

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) talks with Khris Middleton (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo on the court will be a welcome sight in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

"Him being healthy, taking care of him is always our priority, we're probably always going to err on the side of caution because we know how important he is to us," Budenholzer told reporters last week of Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo's played at his typical MVP-caliber level this season while averaging 31 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 35 of Milwaukee's 46 games. Middleton's absence has been glaring, and he's struggled when he's been on the court.

His preseason wrist injury lingered longer than expected. He returned to the court in December and averaged 11.1 points, 4.4 assists and 2.6 rebounds while shooting just 32.5% from the floor in those seven games, well short of the form that's made him a three-time All-Star.

The Bucks have appeared to take a cautious approach with both players' injuries as they prepare for a postseason battle in a competitive Eastern Conference. Entering Sunday's games, the Bucks were in third place in the East at 29-17, 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Celtics. They were one game behind the second-place Philadelphia 76ers and a half game ahead of the Brooklyn Nets.