Time for Middleton and Bledsoe to step up
The need for greatly improved performances from Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe would certainly become all the greater if Antetokounmpo does end up sitting this one out, but even if their star teammate does play, the Bucks need more from their secondary stars.
The injury to Malcolm Brogdon has created a need for other Bucks to step up and take on an even greater share of the workload, and that can’t all fall on Antetokounmpo to score over 50 points, as he did on Sunday.
Without Brogdon, Bledsoe’s driving ability becomes all the more important in terms of penetrating drives leading to easy paint points. As one of the most efficient inside scorers in the league, Bledsoe simply needs to be more assertive on that front, particularly during spells when Antetokounmpo is on the bench.
There are so many ways in which Middleton could pick up his game at present that it’s more difficult to find one set element of his play that needs to step up. In fact, that may be an indication that consistency needs to be the priority for Middleton in the weeks ahead.
The odds will be stacked against the Bucks if Middleton plays as poorly as he did in the first half of Sunday’s loss to the Sixers, yet they’ll be hard to beat if he performs at the level he did for much of the fourth quarter.
Bledsoe’s future is already assured, Middleton is still playing for his. Either way, both men need to prove their worth to the Bucks over the next couple of months, and Tuesday night would be a good place to start.
The game will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin and NBA TV, with tip-off from Fiserv Forum set for 7pm CT on Tuesday night.