MILWAUKEE -- Friday night's game against the New York Knicks was supposed to be a special occasion for the Milwaukee Bucks, who are set to welcome Jabari Parker back to the court for the first time since tearing his left ACL a year ago.
It would have also marked the first time Milwaukee put its core of Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton on the floor for an entire game. Instead, the Bucks will prepare for Parker's return while bracing themselves for the possibility of being without Antetokounmpo, who suffered an ankle injury late in a 108-89 loss at Minnesota on Thursday night.
"I don't think we've had our full lineup out there in a long, long time," Khris Middleton said. "It's frustrating, but it's part of the game."
Making matters worse for Milwaukee, point guard Malcom Brogdon was also injured Thursday night. The team tentatively announced that Brogdon suffered a strained left calf but will undergo further testing Friday night and isn't expected to play against the Knicks.
"You could tell by him sitting there he wasn't in great spirits," said Middleton, who had 21 points in the loss. "Hopefully it's not as bad as he thinks and he'll be out there sooner than later."
Brodgon's injury came in the second quarter but Antetokounmpo's came in the fourth with the Bucks trailing by as many as 17. Interim coach Joe Prunty defended his decision to keep his star player, already battling a knee issue this season, on the floor late in a blowout loss on the first night of a back-to-back.
"That's the whole thing, (the deficit) was right around 15 and that's what we were talking about, was, 'Can we make a push here'?" Prunty said.
Facing a short-handed Bucks squad would be good news for the Knicks, who would like to get back on track after snapping a two-game winning streak with a 30-point loss Wednesday at Boston -- their fourth in the last six games.
Avoiding Antetokounmpo, who averaged 28 points with 10.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in three games against New York last season, including a buzzer-beater at the Garden on Jan. 4, would be a big break for the Knicks. They've struggled against big, quick and athletic opponents. With Antetokounmpo leading the charge, the Bucks certainly fall into that category.
"We need everybody to play as hard as they can," New York coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We're not the size and athleticism of a lot of these teams, so we've got to do that."
The Knicks come into the game six games under .500 and 10th in the Eastern Conference but are still within striking distance of the playoffs, trailing No. 8 Philadelphia by three games and No. 7 Milwaukee by five.
Friday's game marks the end of a 20-game stretch that included 16 on the road.
The Knicks dropped the series 2-1 a year ago despite getting 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds from Kristaps Porzingis.