Latest injury update ahead of Game 3 feels like a gut punch for the Bucks

Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Two
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Two / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

After splitting the first two games at Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers are set to resume their postseason clash on Friday.

It's no secret that the Bucks are banged up, as Giannis Antetokounmpo is yet to play in this series due to an ailing calf strain. However, more injury news has hit the airwaves, and it adds insult to injury for a team already playing without one of its stars.

Per The Athletic's Eric Nehm, Doc Rivers revealed that Khris Middleton did not practice Thursday due to an ankle sprain he suffered in Game 2, and his status for Game 3 is uncertain. Middleton played 36 minutes despite suffering the injury, but it's clearly still bothering him.

Latest injury update ahead of Game 3 feels like a gut punch for the Bucks

With Giannis and Khris Middleton both banged up, the Bucks could legitimately find themselves on the road in a hostile environment for Game 3 without two crucial cogs. It's a nightmarish scenario, but there's no time to mope.

If both players are sidelined, Milwaukee will have to embrace a next-man-up mentality beyond belief. The Pacers will swarm Damian Lillard, so role players will have to step up even more than when it was just Giannis Antetokounmpo was out for the first two games.

Bobby Portis is the player everyone has their eyes on here. With his size, rebounding and scoring, he has the tools to give the Bucks a lot of the attributes they are missing with their regulars. He did so in Game 1, but failed to replicate that success in Game 2. They need him at his best to stand a chance of surviving while they wait for reinforcements.

If Middleton is out, this could also be a perfect opportunity for Doc Rivers to deploy one of the team's younger wings, something he hinted at previously. Andre Jackson Jr. could particularly be helpful in this matchup, giving the Bucks an energetic wing who can keep up with Indiana's pace and play some decent enough defense to bother more athletic players.

Ultimately, only time will tell. No one knows right now if Middleton will be in or out of the lineup; it's all about how he responds to treatment. The same goes for Giannis. No matter who is out on the floor in Game 3, the Milwaukee Bucks have to make adjustments to bounce back from a putrid Game 2.

Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.