A G-League alumni, Khris Middleton has become an integral part of the Milwaukee Bucks’ setup since his NBA debut, something that has never been more apparent than in the 2021 NBA playoffs.
Antetokounmpo might grab the headlines, but it is Khris Middleton who should be also lauded for his ability to step up for the Bucks in times of adversity.
How Khris Middleton has stepped up as the second star for the Milwaukee Bucks
Khris Middleton’s 2021 NBA playoff numbers haven’t been mighty impressive, as he has averaged 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 43% shooting from the field. He has had his share of struggles, having poor games against both the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks in the conference semi-finals and finals, respectively.
However, when the chips were down and the Milwaukee Bucks were staring at defeat, Middleton elevated his game and brought his team back into contention against both opponents. The first instance was against the Brooklyn Nets, when the Milwaukee Bucks were on the brink of elimination after a Game-5 loss to Kevin Durant and co.
The Milwaukee Bucks needed to hold home court and force a Game 7. That’s when Khris Middleton stepped up, dropping 38 points, ten rebounds and five assists on a staggering 11-16 shooting from the field.
He followed that with a 23-point, ten-rebound and six-assist effort in Game 7, as the Bucks survived a stellar display from Kevin Durant to reach the Conference Finals.
The win against the Nets helped the Hawks set up a meeting with the Atlanta Hawks, a gritty, talented team riding on support from neutrals. The Hawks were expected to be no match for the mighty Milwaukee Bucks, but shocked fans and analysts alike by splitting the first four games.
The Bucks once again found themselves in a precarious situation, and Khris Middleton rose to the fore yet again. Middleton ended Game 5 with a stat line of 23 points, ten rebounds and eight assists, almost securing a triple-double.
His performance in the closeout game was even more impressive, as he dropped 32 points and seven assists on 40% shooting from downtown.
Both these spectacles came in the absence of the Milwaukee Bucks’ talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo, who watched from the sidelines, recuperating from a hyperextended knee injury. In the last two games of the Bucks’ last two series, Khris Middleton has averaged 29.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists with shooting splits of 47.6/41.9/92.9.
Considering these clutch performances, it’s safe to say that Khris Middleton and not Giannis Antetokounmpo (who might miss a few games/series due to injury) will be the Bucks’ trump card against the Phoenix Suns in the upcoming 2021 NBA Finals.