Jrue Holiday Gamble Brings A Jackpot For The Milwaukee Bucks

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The Milwaukee Bucks were in an unusual position outside of last season.

They were the title contenders facing major turmoil as Giannis Antetokounmpo’s so-called supermax contract extension was not signed after they had the best regular-season record for the second consecutive season and yet disappointingly escaped the playoffs again. .

Milwaukee’s general manager, Jon Horst, said that to reassure timid Bucks fans (and Antetokounmpo), the team is focused on making “big shifts” to build a roster around Antetokounmpo. If the Bucks didn’t, they risked losing a generational player to free agent after this season.

The final move came as guard Jrue Holiday, who scored 27 points and added 9 rebounds and 9 assists in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday, was bought for a win that sent Milwaukee to the team. First time in league finals since 1974. It was a fitting continuation of Holiday’s Game 5 performance with 25 points. 13 assists. Antetokounmpo suffered a knee injury in both games and the Bucks needed Holiday to fill the resulting void. Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said Holiday was “fit for the situation”, albeit a bit.

“It’s great to think you watched the playoffs for that when you were a little kid,” Holiday said. “These are all the moments I felt watching TV as a little kid. I’ve lived and passed them and now I’m going to the finals and see what it’s all about.”

When the Bucks bought Holiday, it wasn’t clear that they had increased their chances of solving their problems and persuading Antetokounmpo to stay with the team. Although Holiday is a highly respected guard, especially on the defensive end, he only formed one All-Star team in 2013. More than 11 NBA seasonsraises questions about whether it will be a sufficient upgrade to take the Bucks to the next level.

On top of that, the Bucks gave up a prize to get him from the New Orleans Pelicans in a four-team deal: Eric Bledsoe (starting quarterbacks), George Hill (a strong shooting guard), two top Bucks’ 2020 draft picks. A round pick and the right to trade two future picks, while giving up the rights of promising RJ Hampton. It’s all for an actor who was 30 at the time and wasn’t considered a star in the traditional sense.

If the plan backfired and the Bucks were knocked out of the playoffs again before the finals, the Bucks risked not only losing Antetokounmpo but also putting them at a significant disadvantage in the rebuild without full draft picks. To make matters even more vague, Holiday could have terminated his contract after this season, raising the odds that the Bucks would trade years of draft picks for nothing.

Instead, the swap has worked – so far – almost as well as the Horst and Bucks fan base could have imagined. From a macro perspective, the deal likely smoothed Antetokounmpo’s path. sign extension a few weeks later, he dedicated the two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner to Milwaukee, at least for now. (He could have signed it regardless.)

The vacation is exactly as hoped for in Milwaukee. While his regular season numbers weren’t particularly flashy – 17.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.1 assists – he was the league’s defensive first team. holiday in april agreed to an extension Months after Antetokounmpo, his contract with Milwaukee will run until at least 2024.

“The pressure is often external, so within the team, we just wanted to play with him,” Bucks reserve guard Pat Connaughton told reporters after Game 6. We loved what kind of man he was as a person, as an actor. He always plays the right game.”

Holiday did not become a regular season All-Star, but was brought in for a greater purpose.

“I’m here to win,” Holiday said. “None of that really matters to me. I think I’m here to be in this position for the win, to have a chance to make it to the finals and take advantage of it. I think the compliments from my teammates and the players in the league know what’s going on. They’re in the trenches with me. What a fight and claw. They know you’re there, and if I get respect from them, that’s the only thing that really matters to me.”

Holiday was bought to take the Bucks to new heights and did just that with his strong run against the Atlanta Hawks in the conference finals. In six games, Holiday averaged 22 points and 10 assists and shot 46.3 percent off the field, above regular season averages.

Holiday’s significance to the Bucks lies in its versatility. As a shooter, he was able to leave space on the pitch (he hit 39.2 percent from the 3-point range. regular season), giving Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton more room for operation. He could penetrate and create for others every night, giving Budenholzer more playmaking options.

Holiday is also one of the best defensive guards in the NBA and faced top players from several rival teams, including Kevin Durant and Trae Young, at the end of the season, allowing Antetokounmpo and Middleton to save more energy for the offensive end. The Bucks had a net 8.7 rating when the trio shared the court with Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo during the regular season. the players were on the ground. This is between best in the league. (Lopez and DiVincenzo were the other regular season starters. DiVincenzo didn’t qualify for the playoffs in the middle of the first round. left foot injury.)

But perhaps Holiday’s greatest asset was her ability not to shrink as the pressure increased—a welcome addition for Milwaukee given her recent postseason history. The Bucks’ playoff prospects suddenly looked dim – after Antetokounmpo suffered a knee injury in Game 4 and subsequently won to tie the series in two games, Holiday responded with composure. Middleton went cold as the Hawks began making a bold comeback in the fourth quarter on Saturday night.

“I told Jrue I was struggling – ‘I just want to win. You have to get the ball and do something because I don’t have it right now,'” Middleton said of a conversation with Holiday. (Not that Middleton had a bad game: he finished with 32 points.)

Holiday scored 6 points in the final quarter, giving the Bucks a 13 lead with the two remaining 5 minutes and 25 seconds on the creative layup, and offered Lopez an alley-oop assist with 1:29 left in the final to seal the win.

This post-season run has not been spotless for Holiday. Against the Nets in the conference semifinals, Holiday tackled both ends of the court. he is shot just 36.1 percent off the field burned in the series and routinely by Durant. But he also scored a few key baskets towards the end of Game 7 to save the Bucks from another early playoff exit.

Now the Bucks will head to Phoenix to beat the Suns in Game 1 of the finals, where Holiday will face her biggest test yet. The guards who are expected to slow down are two charge mages Chris Paul and Devin Booker. At the same time, Antetokounmpo’s availability in the series is uncertain, so Holiday will likely need to attack alongside Middleton, just as he did against Atlanta in Games 5 and 6.

That’s too much for a perennial All-Star, let alone a one-time pick. But if the Atlanta series were any indication, Holiday doesn’t seem to be afraid to carry the extra weight. That’s why the Bucks traded for him, and Holiday has already paid off by taking them on the championship round.

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