The Milwaukee Bucks won their fourth consecutive game, a 135-110 blowout of a short-handed New Orleans Pelicans team. Of course, the win was highlighted by Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s 50 points and 13 rebounds. It was his tenth 40+ point game of the season, matching his career-high. Of course, Giannis’ most famous 50-point game came in Game Six of the 2021 NBA Finals, clinching Milwaukee’s first NBA title since 1971. As the Bucks, who are currently the third seed in the Eastern Conference, start to look ahead to a potential playoff run, it may not be Giannis who will be the key to their success.
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson Identifies Khris Middleton as the Most Important Player
One of the reasons the Bucks were not able to repeat as champions in 2022 was because Khris Middleton got hurt in the opening round of the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls. While Milwaukee was able to advance, Middleton’s absence was felt as the Bucks fell to the Boston Celtics. There is no small group of fans that believe that, had Middleton been healthy, the Bucks would have made it back to the Finals.
Related: Watch: Giannis Throws Down the Dunk of the Year
Milwaukee was again without Khris Middleton for most of this season. Offseason wrist surgery and another knee injury limited the three-time All-Star to just seven games before the New Year began. Since returning to the floor, however, he has provided a scoring spark that the Bucks had been missing. His ability to create his own shot off of the dribble was sorely missed by the team.
This fact was noticed by Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, who tweeted the following:
Milwaukee’s championship aspirations depend on a healthy Khris Middleton!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 30, 2023
It is certainly easy to see why Magic Johnson, and others, may feel this way. Milwaukee has yet to lose a playoff series in which all members of their Big Three (Middleton, Giannis, and Jrue Holiday) are healthy and play the entire series.
Related: Giannis Reveals Which Teammate Will Join Him on the All-Star Team
Milwaukee Would Not Have Gotten to the 2021 Finals without Middleton
When Giannis went down with a hyperextended knee in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks, it was Middleton who put the team on his back and led them to the Finals. Even when Giannis returned for the Championship, Middleton continued to be the perfect second-scoring option. Magic Johnson is simply reminding fans of the impact Middleton can have when healthy.
There is vocal faction of Milwaukee fans that would like to see the Bucks move on from Khris Middleton. It seems as if the experts, at least Magic Johnson, disagree.
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