We all know a Khris Middleton.
He’s the one that comes home from the club with all of the phone numbers but is never the best-looking dude in the crew. He’s the guy who everyone knows at the party despite the fact that he works in an entirely different industry. He’s the NBA All-Star who is never in the discussion for best player in the game but shows up when it matters most.
Throughout this postseason, much has been said about the Milwaukee Bucks’ struggles on the offensive end of the floor. But on Sunday night, the Bucks found a cure in Middleton, who was kind enough to deliver a timely 20-point, fourth-quarter assault to help push Milwaukee past the Atlanta Hawks 113-102.
It was a much-needed win for the Bucks, who now lead their Eastern Conference Semifinals series 2-1—and the sweet taste of victory wouldn’t be possible had Middleton not gone absolute ape shit in the game’s closing minutes.
“What I saw today was unbelievable. It was freaking unbelievable,” Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo told reporters after the game. “[He] carried the team at the end. He turned the ball over like two times, and after that, he was locked in. He was like, ‘Pass me the ball.’ And we gave him the ball. There’s moments we know when to set screens for him, we know when he wants the ball, and that was the moment.”
He continued, “We were like, ‘Get the hell out of the way, give him the ball, take us home, Khris,’ and that’s what he did.”
He’s a few other things he did:
- Outscored the entire Atlanta Hawks team by himself in the fourth quarter (20 to 17).
- Tie his career-high with 38 points.
- Become the only player in franchise history to score at least 30 points, grab at least 10 boards, dish at least five assists, and knock down at least five three-pointers in two separate playoff games.
- Become the first player in franchise history to score 20 points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game within the last 25 postseasons.
“He’s just a hell of a player,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “There’s lots of great players in this league, and we know what Khris can do for us and how we can win with him. That’s what’s most important.”
Here’s an important stat: When Middleton shoots 40 percent or better from the floor during the postseason, the Bucks are 9-1. When he falls short of that—like the 33.9 percent he shot in the three games leading up to Sunday—the Bucks are 1-4. So if the Hawks want to come out of this series alive, not only are they gonna need a healthy Trae Young—who twisted his ankle in the fourth quarter after tripping over a referee—they’re gonna have to figure out a way to slow down both Giannis and his sidekick, Middleton.
“We need him to be aggressive,” Antetokounmpo said of Middleton. “We need him taking over games, we need him making good decisions to play off him.”
Let us hope and pray that the Hawks are up to the task in Game 4 and beyond or their fairytale postseason could soon meet its unceremonious end.