Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon will return Monday night vs. Magic

Malcolm Brogdon’s progress has been unmitigated since the moment on Feb. 1 when the Milwaukee Bucks guard first felt pain in his left leg going for a dunk in Minneapolis. He barely got enough lift to get the ball through the hoop and it was apparent something was wrong.

That something was a partially torn left quadriceps tendon, an injury that would require more than two months of rehabilitation before he’d be able to return to game action. The long road back will end at 7 p.m. Monday when the Bucks host the Orlando Magic for the final regular-season game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

“Close, but we realized I wasn’t quite there,” Brogdon said when asked he close he got to playing Saturday in New York. “Just got to wait. I’ll be back Monday.”

Brogdon’s rehab involved rest, stretches, weight lifting, massages, getting reacclimated to his teammates and getting back into game condition. During the process he experienced just a couple sore days, growing stronger consistently.

By mid-March, Brogdon was back to traveling with the team and returned to the court with teammates, doing extra sessions after practice and shootarounds.

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He got some work in with Tyler Zeller in Cleveland, marking the first time they had shared the court following Zeller’s arrival via trade just a few days after Brogdon’s injury. Brogdon also went one-on-one with Xavier Munford in Denver, later doing sprints on the court before the game against the Nuggets.

Every day he got closer.

“Those are the times where it gets tougher when you get closer to the time,” Brogdon said. “You’ve got to be more patient as the process goes on. It’s sort of the opposite of what you’d think. Just got to continue to be patient.”

But even when the Bucks returned from their West Coast trip, Brogdon, who had long expressed his goal was to return in early April, wasn’t ready yet. He missed home games against the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets before receiving a glimmer of hope in New York.

Saturday morning, the Bucks tweeted he was probable for the game against the Knicks. Brogdon participated in shootaround and felt good immediately after, but knew he would be a game-time decision at best. It didn’t get that far, as after conversations with the medical staff he was listed as out well in advance of game time.

As long as everything continues to go to plan, Brogdon will be back for Monday’s contest. The Bucks went 16-14 in the 30 games he missed.

Considering Milwaukee’s recent injury issues — five players sat out Saturday’s game, including four due to injuries — Brogdon’s return is especially welcome.

“I can’t wait, man, I can’t wait to have him back,” point guard Eric Bledsoe said. “At the same, I think we did a great job of playing together since him and (Matthew Dellavedova) went down. Those are key pieces of our backcourt, him and Delly. Glad to have Malcolm back.”

Brogdon’s return comes just in time to help the Bucks in their push for the best possible seed in the playoffs. Heading into the final three days of the season, the Bucks are tied with the Miami Heat for sixth in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the Washington Wizards. The Heat and Wizards own the tiebreakers over the Bucks, which means Milwaukee needs to collect victories in order to hold their spot in seventh or move up.

After such a long layoff, can Brogdon get up to speed for the playoffs in just two games?

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’ll definitely be able to get back into a rhythm before, but it’s mandatory that I play at least a game or two before I get back to the playoffs.”

Following two months of playing without two key parts of their rotation — Brogdon and Dellavedova — the Bucks are excited to get Brogdon back and hope Dellavedova (right ankle sprain) will be ready soon as well. The season as a whole has been better than last year at 43 wins with two games to play and marks the team’s best since 2009-’10 but has been below the Bucks’ high expectations. But with the team finally getting healthy, the team hopes to peak at the right time.

“Absolutely. Yes, we believe,” Bucks coach Joe Prunty said when asked if the team can reach a new level in the playoffs. “That locker room is full of a tremendous amount of competitors, guys that believe in one another, believe in what we’re doing.”

 

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