Milwaukee Bucks: Predicting 2021-22 starting five, sixth man, and closers

MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 29: (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton, Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo
May 11, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports) /

Predicting the closing lineup for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021-22

I don’t want to take the easy way out for this answer, but it really does depend on the matchup, and that’s the beauty of having so much lineup flexibility for the Bucks this season.

There is a myriad of lineup combinations that Budenholzer can close games with depending on the situation and who the opponent is. Holiday, Middleton, and Antetokounmpo have three of the closing spots locked up because if they’re healthy, they’ll be closing games. Beyond that, there are different combinations to fill in around them.

Lopez would be an obvious candidate to close a lot of games since he is the Bucks’ fourth most important player and remains a dominant paint presence on defense. That being said, as we saw in the playoffs, there will be matchups that are unfavorable for Lopez, and he may need to sit during the final minutes of games in favor of a more switchable lineup.

If the Bucks want to go for switchable defenders, then it is possible we see Ojeleye step into the closing lineup. He is incredibly strong, can guard players bigger than him, and would be a very good fit alongside Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt to end games. The worry with Ojeleye is his shooting, so then the option could be Portis, who held up well as a switchable defender against the Phoenix Suns. It would be a good idea to give him more reps in those high leverage situations as a defender, so it’s also beneficial that way as well.

Finally, for the other guard spot, there are four players and two ways to look at what type of player can fill that role. DiVincenzo and Connaughton are better defenders than shooters but can capably space the floor and also provide valuable rebounding if the Bucks go small. Allen and Hill are better shooters, which would help if Ojeleye is on the floor, but are more likely to get targeted on defense as the weakest links in a switch-everything scheme, although they are still solid defensively.

The closing lineup will likely be a different group throughout the year, but that’s a good way to have multiple lineups with experience playing together in big moments.

Projected Opening Night Closing Lineup: Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Next. Milwaukee Bucks: Regrading the notorious Bobby Portis signing from 2020. dark

For as much continuity as the Bucks have, there are still many questions to be answered for who will fill key roles for the defending champs.