Khris Middleton is officially back for Milwaukee Bucks with vintage game

Jan 22, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the bigger questions or reasons for pessimism surrounding the Milwaukee Bucks (aside from their numerous injuries) was the performance of two-time All-Star Khris Middleton.

He had been dealing with injuries and illnesses of his own, but when he was healthy, it wasn’t the same player that fans had been accustomed to seeing. The team was able to weather the storm and won games despite some of his inefficient shooting efforts as well as the turnovers.

His passing had been there, so was his defense, but he couldn’t quite find his rhythm with his jumper (whether that be from 3 or in the midrange).

However, with Giannis Antetokounmpo out and on the second night of a back-to-back, the Bucks needed a classic Middleton performance if they wanted to win against the Sacramento Kings. That’s exactly what they got.

Khris Middleton carried the Milwaukee Bucks with a vintage effort

In his first 21 games, Middleton averaged under 18 points per game on 53.9 percent true shooting and an effective field goal rate under 49 percent. It was his free throw shooting that kept him afloat (as well as a resurgent 3-point jumper after returning from COVID in mid-November) in terms of true shooting but his effective field goal rate shows the issues he was having shooting the ball.

I chose his first 21 games because that was when he suffered a knee injury that initially looked pretty severe. He only ended up missing three games and maybe that gave him a chance to reset because since then, we’ve seen the Middleton that we’ve come to expect in terms of efficiency.

Before last night’s game, Middleton’s true shooting percentage was around 62 percent and, perhaps more importantly, posted an effective field goal rate of 55.4 percent in his last 15 games after returning from his hyperextended knee issue. He had certainly found a groove in that span.

He had a few very nice games in that stretch. Two 27-point double-doubles against the Charlotte Hornets, but they lost both games. He had a season-high 34 points against the Atlanta Hawks, but he also had eight turnovers in a losing effort. His most impressive game was his 27 point, seven-rebound, seven-assist game in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies but he also had the two-time MVP helping him lead the way.

Last night, he didn’t have his running mate with him and Jrue Holiday is still looking as though he’s working his way back from his ankle injury. Middleton needed to lead the way on the second night of a back-to-back against a team the Bucks should beat, even without Antetokounmpo.

Middleton responded by tying his season-high with 34 points on 76.5 percent true shooting and a 72.5 percent effective field goal rate. He also chipped in with six rebounds and five assists (as well as only two turnovers!) and led the way for the Bucks without their superstar.

Middleton had 17 points in the first half, but only managed three in the third quarter. But, as we’ve seen Middleton do for years now, he stepped up when the Bucks needed him most.

The Kings made a comeback effort but the multi-time All-Star scored 14 of his 34 points in the final frame to close the door, including seven points in the final minute and change. Oh, and he also grabbed a steal in the final 30 seconds off an inbounds lob play by the Kings.

Middleton has been playing at an All-Star level over his last 16 games but this game solidified that he is officially back to his normal self after a bumpy and uneven start to his 2021-22 campaign.

Next. 3 goals for the Milwaukee Bucks before 2022 All-Star break. dark

We’ll see if this ends up being a springboard for Middleton and the Bucks as they’ve now won three straight games ahead of a relatively easier part of their schedule coming up in their next four games.