Milwaukee Bucks: How 3 key role players have stepped up in NBA Finals

Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: P.J. Tucker, Phoenix Suns: Chris Paul
Jul 17, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks have taken a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals following a thrilling five-game stretch jam-packed with memorable moments.

This series has produced many storylines to this point, with several highlights including the stellar play from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the aggressive two-way demeanor from Jrue Holiday, and the heroics from Khris Middleton. Milwaukee’s leading trio has been sensational and they recently just clocked their best performance together yet in the team’s 123-119 Game 5 win Saturday night.

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While these three players have rightfully dominated the news headlines, for the most part, it would be wrongful to ignore the contributions from some members of the supporting cast that have provided a massive boost for the Bucks in this series.

They might not be stuffing the stat sheet nightly, but as the term role player entails, they have played their individual parts as well as they could throughout the first five games in these NBA Finals.

P.J. Tucker has provided stellar defense for the Milwaukee Bucks in NBA Finals

P.J. Tucker has started for the Bucks in every game since their second round series versus the Brooklyn Nets kicked off, largely due to his robust presence defensively.

That defense was ultimately why the team traded for him in the first place before the deadline earlier this year, and he has come up big in these playoffs. Sticking with this series specifically, Tucker has undeniably had his hands full trying to slow down two talented guards in Devin Booker and Chris Paul. The versatility that the forward provides on that side of the ball has been a luxury for Milwaukee in defending these two, although the results have been mixed.

According to, Tucker has guarded Booker for 75.9 partial possessions in this series, roughly translating to 21 minutes of action. In that time, Booker has shot 14-of-24 from the floor, including 12-of-15 from the free throw line. The guard is destined to hit his share of tough shots no matter which defender is across from him, and Tucker is doing his best to try and limit Booker as much as humanely possible. This is highlighted elsewhere as Tucker has forced the All-Star guard to cough up five turnovers during their matchup minutes this series.

As for Paul, Tucker has seen much more success against him from a shooting and production standpoint. Milwaukee’s bruiser has held Paul to five points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field across 39.7 partial possessions thus far while surrendering just two free throw attempts. The former teammates are certainly accustomed to seeing what one another brings to the court, and this matchup has been intriguing to see.

Tucker’s defense has been reputable, although he continues to find himself in foul trouble during the series with 19 total personal fouls. Defense is where the forward will mostly make the key contributions, but he has also been solid offensively by scoring 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting throughout these first five games.