Milwaukee Bucks: 3 key X-factors vs. Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals

Feb 10, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 10, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday
Jul 3, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Jrue Holiday’s aggressiveness will be an X-factor for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals vs. Phoenix Suns

After starting off the Eastern Conference Finals on a two-game at Fiserv Forum, Jrue Holiday cooled off mightily for the Bucks over the next two games on the road.

Yet, with Giannis sidelined for Games 5 and 6, Holiday took it upon himself to step up on both ends of the floor, playing with much more fire and aggressiveness. In that span, Holiday took control by averaging 26 points on 46.5 percent field goal shooting and 35 percent 3-point shooting while dishing out 11 assists and hauling in 7.5 rebounds. While his offense was clicking, the guard was also active on the defensive end by tallying 2.5 steals and a single blocked shot in those games.

Holiday’s sensational two-game finish to the Conference Finals caught national attention along with praise, even fueling a rather controversial opinion from Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley. As worded by Fadeaway World’s Lee Tran:

"“I hate to say this. I think the best thing that happened to the Milwaukee Bucks was Giannis getting hurt,” Barkley said. “Because they have unleashed Jrue Holiday — the aggressive Jrue Holiday. I think he is going to be fantastic in the Finals against Chris Paul. If Giannis is 85-90 percent, I’m going to go with Milwaukee.”"

While Barkley is wrong about Antetokounmpo getting hurt being the best thing for the Bucks – because no team wants to see their superstar go down – he makes a valid point about Holiday stepping up. Understanding that he needed to step up to keep the ship afloat without Giannis, Holiday started playing more aggressively by driving to the rim, making smarter passes, playing more robust defense, and simply doing all of these little things to help the Bucks win those games back-to-back.

Whether Antetokounmpo is good to go or not, the Bucks will need Holiday to keep it consistent with the aggressive two-way approach. He can change the game offensively when he is on, doing his damage primarily close to the basket. Defensively, Holiday’s prowess is certainly recognizable, and he will face a tall order likely being matched up against Chris Paul in this series. As Barkley highlighted, an aggressive Holiday could be the difference-maker.

Milwaukee Bucks: 3 takeaways from season series with Phoenix Suns. dark. Next

Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Bucks and Suns will tip-off tonight at 8:00 p.m. CST, and be sure to watch it live on ABC.