DETROIT (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks have two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and three-time All-Star Khris Middleton in their lineup together for the first time in more than a month. Both forwards played the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
Antetokounmpo had missed five straight games with a sore left knee. Middleton hadn’t played since Dec. 15 due to a sore right knee.
Milwaukee selected Antetokounmpo No. 15 overall a decade ago. The native of Greece was the NBA's Most Improved Player award in his fourth season and won consecutive MVP awards in 2019 and 2020.
Detroit drafted Middleton in 2012 in the second round and traded him along with two players to the Bucks in exchange for Brandon Jennings. The former Texas A&M star has become a steady standout in the league.
“They’ve been together longer than any of us on this current roster or staff, "said coach Mike Budenholzer, who is in his fifth season with the franchise. “They’re the ones that have built this program to what it is. They play at an amazingly high level.
“There’s a connection, and their skill sets go well together when they’re at their best. We have a really good roster and team that needs those two guys, and we are our best with them.”
The Central Division-leading Bucks have become a consistent contender, winning an NBA title in 2021 for the first time in 50 years.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton — a duo Detroit coach Dwane Casey called “Fire and Ice" — have had a lot to do with the team's success.
“Giannis' fire, his passion, there's not too many guys in the league that play as hard as he does," Casey said. “Khris is calm and in control and in the moment. They fit from that standpoint.