The Milwaukee Bucks received a double blow on Monday night as they lost to the Chicago Bulls just hours after it was announced Michael Carter-Williams would undergo season-ending surgery.
After qualifying for the playoffs last season with a sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks have suffered an indifferent season; finding themselves 12th in the East with a record of 26-38.
Before last night's loss at the United Center - where Pau Gasol inspired the Bulls with a triple-double - the Bucks were five games back from their opponents. However, the 100-90 loss leaves the Central Division outfit a further game behind Chicago, who currently occupy the final playoff space in the East.
Carter-Williams has sat out the past four games due to patellar tendinitis as the Bucks have gone .500 and will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
The 2013 11th draft pick has played 54 games this season - starting 37 - averaging 11.5 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per 30.5 minutes of action. He dropped a season-high 24 points during a loss to the Golden State Warriors in December.
MCW joined the Bucks in a three-team trade during the summer that involved the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns. The trade saw the Bucks give Brandon Jennings to the Suns in order to take Carter-Williams from Philly.
Jason Kidd started with natural shooting guard O.J. Mayo playing at the one spot in Chicago with Khris Middleton playing shooting guard. Jerryd Bayless came off the bench and led the scoring for the visitors with 20 points from seven of 15 from the field.
The Bucks fielded just eight players on Monday night. John Henson continues his recovery from a lower-back problem while Tyler Ennis, Damien Inglis and John O'Bryant were coaches decision as they did not play.
The Wisconsin-based franchise have 18 games left in their season and will have to pull off something quite incredible to even get close to playoff contention.
They have home games against the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans to come this week before a trip to Boston. Then it's a three-game homestand against the Toronto Raptors, Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz.
With the series currently tied at 1-1, they have two games remaining against Eastern Conference powerhouse the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their trip to the Quicken Loans Arena is sandwiched in between games at the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks.
A playoff spot seems to be beyond the Bucks this season, but with one of the youngest rosters in the league right now, time is on their side.
The future looks bright for Milwaukee, but they would have been hoping their promise could have shone through this season and took them to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.