Milwaukee Bucks center Brooke Lopez, who has been out since last October, will return to the lineup on Monday

Milwaukee Bucks Center Brooke Lopez The team – who has been out with a back injury since opening night – announced that it will return to the squad against the Utah Jazz on Monday night.

Lopez’s return cemented the frontline with the Bucks as the franchise prepares for the Eastern Conference playoffs and a chance to defend the NBA championship.

Bucks also said George Hill He will be back on Monday. Hill (neck ache) has missed the last 16 games.

Lopez had back surgery on December 2, and had rehabbed the injury until he cleared up to return to full contact in practice a week ago. The Bucks fall outside the league’s top ten in defensive proficiency for the first time in coach Mike Budenholzer’s tenure, part of the reason being that they were playing without Lopez’s rebound and rim protection.

Milwaukee 42-26 and second in the Eastern Conference behind Miami. Lopez finished third in the NBA a year ago with 163 defensive games, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

He also ranked second in the percentage of goals allowed on the edge out of 72 players defending 200 shots, according to ESPN Statistics and Information. Only Golden State Draymond Green (47.3%) rated it better than Lopez (49.3%).

Lopez, 33, averaged 12.3 points, five rebounds and 1.5 blocks a year ago.

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