Milwaukee Bucks: Grades from disastrous Game 1 versus Phoenix Suns

Jul 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday, Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul
Jul 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

How did the starters perform for the Milwaukee Bucks against the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the NBA Finals?

F. This was one of the ugliest games Jrue Holiday has ever played for the Bucks, and it just so happened to take place in the NBA Finals. The guard looked lost all night on both ends of the floor, not looking like his usual self that dominated in Games 5 and 6 of the last round. Offensively, Holiday finished with just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting, including missing all four of his shots from behind the arc. In what has been a recurring theme this postseason, Holiday was settling for jumpers, looking afraid to put his head down and get to the basket on numerous occasions. When he did, he looked far from comfortable as the guard missed several bunnies right at the rim. He would also turn the ball over three times by making some head-scratching plays with the basketball. The one bright spot would be that he handed out nine assists to try and get the ball moving, which is another whole issue for this team. Defensively, Holiday’s reputable First Team All-Defensive stature was lacking as the Suns tried everything possible to maneuver away from him. He cannot control that, but it was a poor overall showing from Holiday, and there is no way around it. This team will desperately need more from him if they will rebound from this debacle.. PG. Milwaukee Bucks. JRUE HOLIDAY

B. As he tends to do, Khris Middleton started this game off freezing cold offensively. He was missing shots right at the rim, in his sweet spot in the mid-range, and on the perimeter with an abundance of 3-pointers. He later found a groove and would clock in a team-high 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-12 from deep across 44-and-a-half minutes played. His early struggles bogged down his percentages for the game, but it was welcoming to see him get something to drop offensively. The forward would also add five turnovers to his total as he looked distraught with the ball in his hands in several instances. Although Middleton helped mount a rally late in the fourth quarter, the Bucks need him to have a groove from the jump, not just in the third and fourth quarters when the team is already down double-digits.. SG. Milwaukee Bucks. KHRIS MIDDLETON

Milwaukee Bucks. P.J. TUCKER. C. P.J. Tucker’s defense was set to be a crucial factor in this series, but he did not make much of a difference in the Game 1 defeat. The Suns tried avoiding him whenever possible when they possessed the basketball, doing their part to create mismatches rather than go at Tucker. As a result, his impact was quiet on that end of the floor, and it was felt much more offensively. Tucker finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting, including knocking down his signature corner three. The Bucks will never expect Tucker to stuff the stat sheet with points, assists, or any of that, and rightfully so. He typically makes his money on the defensive end, but it just was not there last night as the Suns largely stayed clear.. SF

B. To even see Giannis Antetokounmpo take the floor in this matchup after his scary injury was something to behold. There were early signs of rust as the two-time MVP missed some easy shots on the offensive end that would typically be routine for him. He was also hit-or-miss from the free throw line by shooting 7-of-12 on the night. All in all, Antetokounmpo would finish with 20 points on 54.5 percent field goal shooting, 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a blocked shot that will certainly be remembered. After missing the previous two games, Antetokounmpo understandably looked uncertain at times, especially with that knee, and who could blame him? He was not aggressive as he might typically be, which the knee likely plays a factor in. With this first game out of the way and more treatment headed his way, hopefully Giannis can continue getting back to his typical form as the series moves onward.. PF. Milwaukee Bucks. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

B-. Many wondered how Brook Lopez would fare in this series on the defensive end, and that question was answered quickly last night. Phoenix’s crafty backcourt consistently hunted him down when they had the basketball, and although Lopez would force them into tough shots off the switch, they kept hitting them over-and-over-and-over until the big man was eventually pulled from the game entirely to put Giannis at center. Lopez had been having a solid night offensively to that point by scoring 17 points on 50 percent shooting, including knocking down three triples, to go along with six rebounds. Yet, he was getting eaten alive on the defensive end, and switching things up was the right call to make. Playing just a tick under 23 minutes in Game 1, it remains to be seen what the Bucks can do to keep Lopez on the floor moving forward.. C. Milwaukee Bucks. BROOK LOPEZ