Milwaukee Bucks: George Hill’s importance would increase in big playoff games

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

George Hill thrived in the playoffs last year, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t have been even more important in that setting for the Milwaukee Bucks this year.

Beyond Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, there was little room for debate over who the Milwaukee Bucks’ third best player was during the 2018-19 playoffs.

Malcolm Brogdon certainly came on strong after returning from injury near the end of the second round, but it was veteran guard George Hill who really stepped up his play to cement himself as one of the team’s standout and most consistent performers.

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That was particularly striking as Hill hadn’t necessarily been on top form for the entirety of his time with the Bucks, as there was certainly a few months that resembled an adjustment period following his trade away from Cleveland.

Come the bright lights of the playoffs, though, Hill looked as good as ever. With Eric Bledsoe experiencing his own postseason struggles for the second consecutive year, Hill’s role was forced to grow, and and his efficiency soared alongside it.

In 26.3 minutes per game over 15 contests, Hill averaged 11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, while shooting 53.4 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from deep, and 81.8 percent from the free throw line.

Additionally Hill’s size, experience, and high IQ provided real value defensively, making him a versatile and valuable backcourt cog in Milwaukee’s defensive scheme too.

Given the ongoing concerns over what happens to Bledsoe come playoff time, the reality is that Hill’s postseason importance may only have ended up even greater this year too.

The emergence of Donte DiVincenzo and the signing of Wesley Matthews may have helped to share the load somewhat, but there was still a real possibility that rather than settling in for the Sixth Man role he performs so well in during the regular season, Hill may have been thrust into an expanded role again.

Even on a couple of occasions this season, on the nights when Bledsoe hasn’t had it, Coach Mike Budenholzer has opted to instead trust Hill to close out games down the stretch. At this point, what may be most valuable and appealing about Hill is that you know exactly what he’s going to give you.

In other words, he’s the exact opposite of what Bledsoe has become in the playoffs.

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If the season had continued as normal, Hill would have been set for a major role in what could have been the most important playoff run as his career. If the season resumes when the coronavirus pandemic subsides, perhaps he still can. From a Bucks’ perspective, there’s little doubt that they’ll need him to if they’re to achieve their ultimate goals.