By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton is expected to miss at least two weeks after injuring his left knee Wednesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls.
The Bucks announced Thursday night that the three-time All-Star had undergone an MRI earlier that day and that they would offer their next status update on him in “approximately two weeks.”
That likely knocks him out at least for the rest of the Bucks-Bulls series., which is tied 1-1. If the series goes the full seven games, it would end May 1.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after he Bucks’ 114-110 loss Wednesday that Middleton had a sprained medial collateral ligament. The MRI confirmed that diagnosis.
As the defending champion Bucks spoke after Wednesday’s game, they braced for the possibility they could be missing Middleton for a significant time.
“You feel for him,” Bucks guard Wesley Matthews said. “Khris is a huge part of this team, this organization, this city.”
Middleton headed into the locker room with 6:49 left in Wednesday’s game. His left leg gave out while he tried to plant on a spin move.
The Bucks did get some good news Thursday.
Their injury report for Game 3 doesn’t include forward Bobby Portis, an indication he should be available to play after missing most of Game 2 with a right eye abrasion. Portis took a hit to the face from Chicago’s Tristan Thompson late in the first quarter as both players were going after a rebound.
Milwaukee won’t have reserve guard George Hill, who still hasn’t played in this series due to an abdominal strain.
The Bucks have been through this situation before, dealing with a knee injury to one of their top players during the playoffs. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee in Game 4 of last season’s Eastern Conference finals with the Atlanta Hawks.
Antetokounmpo missed the final two games of that series but returned for the next round and was named the MVP of the Bucks’ NBA Finals victory over the Phoenix Suns.
As he discussed Middleton’s injury Wednesday, Antetokounmpo said he could understand what his teammate is going through.
“It’s tough,” Antetokounmpo said. “I know that feeling. You don’t want to listen to nobody. You don’t want to talk to nobody because you really don’t know what it is. Tomorrow you’re expecting the worst, hope for the best. At the end of the day, he knows that we are by his side. I don’t need to say it to the media. He knows that he’s my brother no matter what. We need him to win. We’re going to pray, I’m going to pray for the best and hopefully it’s not too bad and he can join us, because we need him.”
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