In a continued theme of searching for consistency amongst Giannis Antetokounmpo’s All-Star caliber running mates, Jrue Holiday is next on the clock.
Holiday, like Khris Middleton, is great at the art form we call basketball, which is why he gets held to the high-standard that he does … along with the fact that he’ll be making $135 million (up to $160 million with incentives) over the next four years, and was acquired for three first-rounders and two draft swaps. (Either way, it’s still an upgrade over Eric Bledsoe, who gets a bad rap in all this, but is indisputably a downgrade from Holiday.)
But in these playoffs, Holiday has had a significant drop off in consistency than what he showed in the regular season offensively, more so than Middleton. During the season, Holiday averaged 17.7 points and 6.1 assists per game on 50 / 39 / 79 shooting splits. The 50 percent shooting was a career-high, by far. The 39.2 percent exact percentage from deep also serves as a career-high, and his first above 35.6 percent in seven seasons. Though Holiday’s averaging 17.2 points and 8.4 assists per game in the playoffs, his splits have dropped to 42 / 29 / 67.
His first four games against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals perfectly capture the offensive rollercoaster it’s been.
Game 1: 33 points, 10 assists, 56 / 42 splits. Didn’t attempt a free throw.
Game 2: 22 points, 7 assists, 64 / 75 / 33 splits.
Game 3: 6 points, 12 assists, 18 / 0 / 50 splits.
Game 4: 19 points, 9 assists, 35 / 29 / 83 splits.
After Anteokoumnpo hyperextended his knee in Game 4 and missed Games 5 and 6, Holiday was one of several Bucks who stepped forward, posting a combined 52 points on 47 / 35 / 63 splits. But in Game 1 of these Finals, with an active Giannis, Holiday was limited to 10 points on 28.6 percent shooting, and missed all of his four three-point attempts. It was Holiday’s third lowest scoring output of the playoffs.
Giannis is playing on his likely less than 100 percent knee, but even as impactful as his 20 points and 17 rebounds proved to be in the 118-105 Game 1 loss, he was only limited to 11 field-goal attempts. Plus, for the two-time MVP, 20 points is lightwork, and also ties his third-lowest scoring output of the playoffs, not including the 14 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals when he didn’t finish the game due to injury. Middleton led with 29 points on 46 / 42 splits with no free-throw attempts. Brook Lopez had an efficient 17 in 22 minutes. And the rest of the Bucks were led by Holiday’s 10 and shot a collective 15-for-37 from the field (40.5 percent).
Holiday not only needs to lead the group for the Bucks to be competitive with the Suns, he needs to not play himself down to that group altogether. Alas, it was only Game 1, which is generally where the weird shit happens, but Holiday’ll need to resemble his All-Star self, and not the less-than version, for a shot at a Milwaukee title, especially since the point guard across from him will be Chris Paul every night.