The Milwaukee Bucks have been dealt a major blow with the news that veteran forward Jae Crowder will miss at least eight weeks due to an abductor injury. Crowder sustained the injury last weekend against the Orlando Magic, initially diagnosed as a groin injury, but an MRI revealed a more serious left abductor and abdominal tear, requiring immediate surgery. The team indicated that Crowder could return in mid-January, but abdominal injuries are notoriously tricky.
Crowder, 33, has been an instrumental player for the Bucks, averaging 8.1 points and 3.9 rebounds off the bench this season. He has been a defensive specialist and a reliable 3-point shooter, shooting an impressive 53% from the floor and 52% from 3-point range.
The injury leaves the Bucks with a void to fill in their lineup, especially with the recent acquisition of Damian Lillard in a blockbuster trade. Head coach Adrian Griffin will rely on backup forwards MarJon Beauchamp and rookie Andre Jackson Jr. to step up in Crowder’s absence.
Losing Crowder comes at a difficult time for the Bucks, who are still trying to develop chemistry with their starting five after the trade for Lillard. They currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings with a 6-4 record.
The Central Division is highly competitive, with the Indiana Pacers leading the way with a 7-4 record. The Bucks are still considered the favorite to win the division, but they will face stiff competition from the Pacers and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite their challenges, the Bucks remain a top contender, sitting at third on DraftKings’ NBA futures board with +450 odds to win the championship. The new-look Boston Celtics are the current favorites, followed closely by the defending champion Denver Nuggets.
In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics are the betting favorite at +155 odds, with the Bucks not far behind at +200. The Philadelphia 76ers have also emerged as contenders after a strong start to the season.
While the Bucks may be struggling on the court, they are also disappointing bettors, with a 1-8-1 record against the point spread. The team has failed to meet expectations after the Lillard trade, making their future uncertain.