Bucks claim 1-seed as Giannis Antetokounmpo sits, Khris Middleton exits

MILWAUKEE -- The Bucks secured the NBA's best record and clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with their 105-92 win Wednesday night against the Bulls despite being without star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo was listed as probable on the team's injury report with right knee soreness leading up to the game and took the court for a shortened version of his regular pregame routine before being ruled out.

The Bucks improved to 11-6 without Antetokounmpo this season as Jrue Holiday picked up the slack with 20 points, eight rebounds and 15 assists -- the second time in his career he has recorded 20 points and 15 assists. He and Wesley Matthews played stellar defense on Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan, who shot 3-for-12 for eight points.

"A great advantage and something to be proud of for the regular season," Bucks center Brook Lopez said after scoring 26 points. "We were very resilient each and every night. Whatever lineup we had out there showed up to play. Again, it's going to be a big advantage because there's a lot of great teams in the postseason, there's going to be a lot of great series. It's going to be a lot of fun."

The Bucks, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, were also without guards Pat Connaughton and Grayson Allen.

Forward Khris Middleton came up limping after attempting a jumper on the Bucks' first possession of the game. He stayed in the contest for eight minutes in the first quarter but went 0-for-3 from the field. Milwaukee announced in the second quarter that he would not return with right knee soreness.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer called Middleton's injury an aggravation of the right knee soreness that has bothered him for most of the season. Budenholzer was not sure whether Middleton would play in either of the team's final two regular-season games.

"We'll learn more going forward," Budenholzer said. "So I couldn't say tonight."

Connaughton suffered a sprained right ankle during Tuesday's game against the Washington Wizards, and Budenholzer said the team was optimistic it will be a short-term injury. Allen's ankle sprain is more severe, according to Budenholzer, who said the Bucks are expected to be without Allen for the rest of the regular season with the hope that he can return for the postseason.

"That gives us seven to 10 days to see how he's doing," Budenholzer said about Allen, who suffered the injury in Sunday's win over the Philadelphia 76ers. "There's a lot that can happen in that time frame, so we'll hope for the positive."