It’s safe to say the wishes of Milwaukee Bucks fans were answered in some fashion Sunday night.
Not only was it refreshing to see the Bucks climb out of their two-game losing skid with the 129-115 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, but it was made more notable by the official return of Torrey Craig.
It had been nearly a month since Craig had seen any playing time, which was first disrupted after fracturing his nose late in the team’s loss to the New York Knicks in their third game of the season.
Even after repairing his broken nose and going the extra mile and making a custom protective mask, Craig still had to wait to hear his number called since being cleared for action a little more than a week ago.
That call hadn’t come until Sunday night where Budenholzer turned to the journeyman wing, who entered at the 4:38 mark in the first quarter to spell two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Craig ultimately ended up doubling his minutes total on the season going into the night by seeing the floor for nearly 13-and-a-half minutes.
Torrey Craig made good on a rare outing for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Over his time on the floor, Craig very much resembled the versatile piece that many envisioned him playing upon coming to Milwaukee. Craig finished with four points on 2-of-3 shooting (0-for-1 from deep), two rebounds as well as two assists and a steal and was a +4 on the night.
Craig showed off some tough finishes when rolling to the basket and even had a nice pocket pass to set up a cutting Jrue Holiday off the baseline midway through his run in the second quarter. And seeing Craig sharing the court with the likes of Holiday, Khris Middleton, Bobby Portis and Antetokounmpo showed what is certainly an enticing lineup configuration that adds to the Bucks’ small ball capabilities.
Following the game, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer and Holiday remarked on the progress that Craig made in what was an overdue showing for the 30-year-old wing.
After the many calls for Craig to see time on the court with all of the multiple DNP-CD’s that have defined his 2020-21 season so far, he finally got an opportunity to make his mark in Milwaukee, much to the delight of Bucks fans, coaches and his teammates.
Given how Milwaukee’s bench had grown static, especially in their high-profile clashes against the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers, Budenholzer was incentivized to shake up the Bucks’ bench. That obviously opened the door for Craig to get minutes after a injury-plagued training camp/preseason, breaking his nose and initially not getting the favor of the two-time NBA Coach of the Year.
Again, it’s only a start for Craig, but hopefully more opportunities are in store for the fourth-year NBA wing to shape the Bucks’ bench for the better.