The NBA Finals is now tied at 2-2 after a miraculous two-game swing from the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo has put on a show in this series, averaging over 32 points per game along with 14 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He seemed to be the only Buck contributing offensively early in the series, with only one player scoring above 20 points in their first two games. Yet, Khris Middleton stepped up in Game Four with a tremendous 40 point performance, finally giving Antetokounmpo some support. However, the other Milwaukee star, Jrue Holiday, hasn’t seemed to find his groove just yet.
Jrue Holiday was traded from the New Orleans Pelicans to Milwaukee last year in the hopes that he could be a more consistent scorer than Eric Bledsoe was for the Bucks and an upgrade defensively. During the regular season, it was clear that Holiday was the piece the Bucks were missing. He averaged 17.7 points on 50.3% shooting and 39.2% from three, as well as 6.1 assists. Jrue also earned himself a spot on the All-NBA Defensive First Team with his teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Milwaukee had hoped his stellar play as a third option in the regular season would continue in their race to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, Jrue Holiday continues to underperform offensively on the biggest stage.
In the NBA Finals thus far (4 games), Holiday averages 15.3 points on 33.3% shooting and 27.3% from beyond the arc. In Game Four, Holiday shot 4-20 from the floor while missing all five of his three-point attempts. He finished with just thirteen points. Jrue’s had quite a decline in scoring production from the regular season and even previous playoff series. Despite these shortcomings, his teammates are still very supportive of the former all-star, especially their leader Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“I know he’s going to be there when we need him the most, and I don’t worry about it,” Giannis stated after Milwaukee’s Game Two loss. “He’s a great basketball player. He’s played great all year, and he’s going to continue to play great for this team.”
While Holiday has struggled shooting the ball, he has contributed in several other areas this series. Both his assists (8.0 per game) and rebound averages (6.0 per game) in the Finals are above what he produced in the regular season. Not only that, but Holiday continues to play stifling defense against the opponent.
When guarded by Jrue Holiday, all-star Devin Booker for the Phoenix Suns is shooting 6-18 (33.3%) and 1-7 (14.3%) from three in the Finals. Holiday has guarded Booker for over 16 total minutes on the floor this series and has done a fantastic job limiting him so far.
Jrue has undoubtedly had an underwhelming series as he is more than capable of contributing extra on the scoring end. However, his additions in other areas, such as grabbing clutch rebounds, sharing the ball, and playing lockdown defense on opposing all-stars, vastly help the team succeed. Jrue must continue to stay aggressive on offense and will hopefully get in a rhythm soon. Once his shots start falling, Milwaukee could gain a huge advantage moving forward in the series.
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