While Khris Middleton is the second-leading scorer of the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA playoffs, the Bucks wouldn’t be in the situation they are in if it wasn’t for their x-factor: Jrue Holiday.
Indeed, Holiday is only averaging 16 points and seven assists in 12 playoff games thus far. Yes, he’s only shooting 27% from the three-point line. However, Holiday’s numbers in the 2021 playoffs are still better than the three years’ worth of numbers that Eric Bledsoe had in his three playoff runs with the Bucks.
In short, the Bucks may have found the right point guard to run alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
True to form, Jrue Holiday had 33 points and ten assists to open the Eastern Conference Finals. Even though the Bucks lost 116-113, Holiday’s numbers served as a warning to Trae Young and company that yes, there’s more to come from Holiday. And Game Two showed just that.
In the Bucks’ 125-91 Game Two win, Holiday provided the reinforcements as he finished with 22 points, seven assists, a steal, and a block. All of that in 32 minutes.
And he did all of that while guarding Trae Young, who was limited to 15 points on six for 16 field goal shooting and only nailed one of his eight attempts from rainbow distance. That one block Holiday had was on Young.
With the best-of-seven series now tied at 1-1, the Hawks have a full plate in front of them. Not only do they need to protect their homecourt, but they also need to solve the puzzle that is Jrue Holiday. If you’re doubting Holiday’s impact on the Bucks on both ends of the court, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t have his usual numbers, and yet, the Bucks came out with a dominant performance.
The Hawks can still bounce back from their forgettable Game Two. Trae Young will get more shimmies in Game Three. But if you’re the Hawks, Jrue Holiday should be the number two problem they need to solve.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will always be Giannis Antetokounmpo, but when Holiday is playing great even at 31, it’s a bigger problem.