Milwaukee Bucks: How Pat Connaughton is the latest role player to step up

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 08 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 08 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have gotten an abundance of help from their supporting cast en route to their appearance in the NBA Finals this season.

In round one, Bryn Forbes elevated his game offensively and torched the Miami Heat with a barrage of 3-pointers. P.J. Tucker showcased why the team was right to trade for him during their second round series with the Brooklyn Nets as he took on the task of slowing down Kevin Durant offensively. Bobby Portis was the unsung hero against the Atlanta Hawks in the Conference Finals as the big man provided a massive spark on both ends and filled in for Giannis Antetokounmpo during the last two matchups in that series.

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The Bucks have gotten a massive lift from an individual role player in each series to this point in the postseason, and it looks like Pat Connaughton is making an early case that this ongoing matchup will be the series where he steps up.

Although the Bucks find themselves in terribly murky water trailing 0-2 to the Phoenix Suns in these NBA Finals, one of the few bright spots has been the uplifting play of Connaughton in the second unit.

Pat Connaughton has given the Milwaukee Bucks solid minutes off the bench in the NBA Finals

Thus far, Connaughton is averaging 11 points in two games while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent from 3-point range, while also hauling down 4.5 rebounds. The guard has provided the Bucks with some much-needed offense while simultaneously rebounding the basketball and being utilized heavily in the team’s defensive rotation.

Connaughton’s impact was noted in Game 1 as he tallied eight points on 3-of-6 shooting while grabbing two rebounds and earning a steal. Although he logged four personal fouls across his 28 minutes, he gave Milwaukee some meaningful minutes on both ends amidst the team’s overall struggle. While single player +/- can be a flawed statistic, it is no coincidence that the swingman finished with a +3 on the night, being just one of three Bucks to finish with a positive rating in that brutal opening loss.

Game 2 was among Connaughton’s best performances in these playoffs as he was clicking on the offensive end. He would shoot 5-of-10 from the floor, including an impressive 4-of-9 from deep to finish with 14 points. Not only was he scoring prolifically, but Connaughton was hustling on the glass as he grabbed seven rebounds, four of which came on the offensive glass. Given his scoring and effort level across 33-and-a-half minutes played, the high-flyer might have been Milwaukee’s second-best player on the floor that night, only behind Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 118-108 defeat.

With the Bucks now entering do-or-die mode as they trail 0-2 in this best of seven series, they will have a crucial two-game stretch ahead on their home floor. Unable to steal either of the first two contests on the road, taking care of business on their home floor will be crucial to keep this team’s title dreams afloat. While Connaughton will not be the determining factor for the Bucks in these Finals, he has certainly shown that he can have a massive impact thus far.

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Hopefully he can sustain this high-end play as the Bucks look to keep this series competitive against the Suns with a pair of games coming at Fiserv Forum.