No guarantee Brogdon starts for Bucks in ECF

MILWAUKEE -- Despite having a week between the end of the second round and the beginning of the Eastern Conference finals, there is no guarantee that Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon will be ready to return to the starting lineup by the beginning of the next series as he recovers from a minor plantar fascia tear.

"He needs more game minutes, more game action," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after practice Saturday. "We plan to continue to increase Malcolm's workload and minutes. To say exactly how it's going to play out -- the next step will be him playing a little bit more in Game 1."

On Wednesday, Brogdon played for the first time since March 15. He came off the bench in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics and played in sub-four-minute spurts. He played a total of 17 minutes and scored 10 points.

Budenholzer said Wednesday that 17 minutes were "more than we planned." After that game, Brogdon said he didn't feel any residual pain.

"I felt 100 percent," Brogdon said. "You want to ease your way into the game and try to help them a little bit. I tried to do that."

The bench group, of which Brogdon was a part in Game 5, was key to Milwaukee's success against the Celtics. Big games from George Hill and Pat Connaughton helped the Bucks win Games 3, 4 and 5. That bench unit has been nicknamed the "Bench Mob."

"It's not the second unit," Connaughton said. "It's the 'Bench Mob.' Big difference there. One is a demotion, the other is a promotion!"

Nikola Mirotic has been starting in Brogdon's absence. At practice Saturday, Mirotic said that no matter whether he's coming off the bench or starting, he will be prepared. Connaughton said that the "Bench Mob" is also prepared for whatever Budenholzer draws up.

"Whatever coach wants to do we support," Connaughton said. "If we have to re-knight Niko [Mirotic], we will re-knight him. If Malcolm is still with us, we are happy to have him. Regardless of who is a part of the Bench Mob, the Bench Mob's goals and morals will still stay the same."

The Bucks had the day off Thursday and held individual player workouts Friday. Budenholzer said the team scrimmaged Saturday during practice and that Brogdon was able to participate.

The long break between series gives Milwaukee the luxury of taking some time off. The Bucks will not practice Sunday and will likely watch Game 7 between the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors as a group. The winner will play at Milwaukee in Game 1 of the East finals Wednesday night.

"We want to go to the Finals Finals," Mirotic said, "so it don't matter who we play."