There is no question that the Milwaukee Bucks are a better team with point guard Jrue Holiday on the roster.
While he has raised Milwaukee’s ceiling exponentially, it has been odd (and frustrating) to see him all of a sudden forget how to shoot a basketball in their second round matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.
In the sweep of the Miami Heat, Holiday averaged 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists, and 2.3 steals per game while shooting at a 48.8% clip. Interestingly enough, he made only 18.8% of his three-pointers in the four games.
With three games against the Nets in the books, Holiday’s shooting splits are 41.8/34.5/33 (he has shot only three free throws all series). With the acquisition of the point guard from UCLA, many of us thought the curse of Eric Bledsoe was finally behind us...maybe not? All joking aside, I have my beliefs as to why he has struggled shooting the ball in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals.
Being asked to be the primary defender on Kyrie Irving is no easy task. Jrue has essentially exerted all his energy on the defensive side of the court and it is not shocking to see some of his misses come up short. While P.J. Tucker did the majority of defending on Kevin Durant in Game Three, Jrue has spent an ample time defending him as well. Defending both Irving and Durant multiple times throughout a game
has to be is EXHAUSTING. Aside from a few mental lapses in both of the games in Brooklyn, Holiday has done an admirable job (and more) at making life increasingly difficult for two of the most gifted scorers the NBA has seen. His defensive effort in Game Three on Kyrie was gutsy, allowing 22 points on 22 shots and the majority of Irving’s makes came on super-tough contested looks.
Now, looking at Holiday’s shot chart throughout the three games against the Nets and you won’t get many complaints from me.
He has done a more than solid job at attacking Brooklyn’s interior presence...but just hasn’t been able to convert. There have been countless possessions where he would successfully drive to the basket to have his layup or floater attempt rim out. One aspect of his game that does not show up on a shot chart is how accurate he is at making jump passes when it looks like he is going to sky-in for a layup, but will make a pinpoint pass to an open shooter in the corner. The only problem? Practically the entire Milwaukee Bucks roster has forgot how to shoot a basketball...making only 22.7% of their attempts from deep.
Holiday ended the 2021 campaign with 50.3/39.2/78.7 shooting splits so I do not blame you for being concerned about his lack of scoring in the second round of the playoffs. However, with how talented of a player he is, I firmly believe those shots will begin to fall in Game Four. You know something is wrong when you all of a sudden have me being the optimist! While the Bucks cannot afford to sit and wait for them to go in, the quality of the shot attempts are certainly there. Perhaps his game-winning layup with 11 seconds left on Thursday is all he needs to get going.
We know the type of defense he is going to play on Brooklyn’s superstars, but when the shots begin to fall for Holiday, the series could get a bit more interesting!