Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton will need to be more consistent in the playoffs

TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 25: (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 25: (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

After struggling in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the Milwaukee Bucks will need a much more consistent version of Khris Middleton in this year’s playoffs.

Before the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a standstill, Khris Middleton was enjoying a career year, and the Milwaukee Bucks were reaping the rewards of having their second best player performing at such a high level.

Over the past few seasons, particularly since the arrival of Mike Budenholzer as head coach, Middleton has grown into a much more consistent and steady presence for the Bucks.

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Still, if there’s one area where his play could come under added scrutiny, it would be just how Middleton performs in the postseason.

To be clear, the picture is somewhat muddled for Middleton over his 34 career playoff games to date, a sample size which is still somewhat small when considering the varieties of noise that have accompanied the Bucks’ different postseason stretches during that span.

Khris Middleton’s playoff history with the Milwaukee Bucks has been varied to date, but they’ll need greater consistency from him if they’re to win a championship.

Middleton doesn’t have a completely glittering playoff history to draw upon, but nor does he have the sustained struggles that plague some players, such as his friend and teammate Eric Bledsoe, at that time of year.

Middleton’s playoff highs have been spectacular, such as his outstanding individual efforts in the Bucks’ seven game loss to the Boston Celtics in 2017-18.

And there are certain elements of his game that are unimpeachable under the bright lights of playoff basketball, such as his immensely impressive 44.6 percent three-point shooting over the course of his playoff career.

Against the Raptors in what was the most important series of his career so far, Middleton struggled to perform with the added pressure and responsibility that comes with being a player with such a vital role on a leading championship contender.

Spending long periods covering Kawhi Leonard, Middleton was largely very solid on the defensive end but that came at a great cost as his offense floundered when his team needed some kind of injection of scoring.

Middleton scored 30 points to go along with seven assists and six rebounds in Game 4 of that series. Beyond that, though, Middleton failed to hit double digits in scoring in two games, and scored only between 11 and 14 in the remaining three games.

Kawhi Leonard’s departure for the Western Conference may well make Milwaukee’s path through the East a little more favorable this year, but if the Bucks are to win a championship, it’s inevitable that sooner or later they’ll need Middleton to bring his A game to the table on both ends of the floor.

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Based on his outstanding play throughout the regular season this year, there’s no reason to believe the two-time All-Star isn’t capable of that. But to get over the finish line and claim the ultimate prize, the Bucks will need the most consistent and productive version of Middleton yet.