Jrue Holiday’s return can’t come soon enough for the Milwaukee Bucks

Dec 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

Saying the Milwaukee Bucks haven’t been a beacon of health and good fortune this season would be an understatement. All five of their regular starters from last season have missed at least nine games this season and they’ve been without Jrue Holiday for their last six games.

Due to a mix of health and safety protocols as well as an ankle injury that has caused him to miss the majority of the last six games. Milwaukee has gone 2-4 in those six games with those two wins coming against the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors.

Admittedly, those are two impressive wins against two teams they’ll be competing for the title against. However, their four losses have all come against teams they should beat (except for maybe the Toronto Raptors, but that’s a matchup issue).

Although they can (and should) win without Holiday, things haven’t been easy and they’re missing him in a big way.

The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t been the same without Jrue Holiday

Going back to the beginning of the season, the Bucks are now 4-9 when Holiday is out and, therefore, 23-9 when he’s in the lineup. There have been extenuating circumstances in those earlier games where the Bucks were missing multiple rotation players, not just Holiday.

In the last six games, however, they’ve been mostly healthy (aside from Brook Lopez, but we can’t count him) and they’ve struggled mightily in games that should have won against teams fighting in the play-in race.

In the 32 games where he was primarily healthy from November 5th to January 5th (he missed one game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in that time), the Bucks had the fifth-best net rating at 4.8. In the last six games, the Bucks have a net rating of 0.8.

The good news is that the Bucks’ four losses have all come by single-digits and their two wins have been by double digits.

Their defense has remained solid in the recent games, sitting 11th at 107.5 but it has been their offense that has struggled. They rank 23rd at 108.3, just ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and behind the Raptors.

The biggest problem has been that, without Holiday, they have had to rely on others to step up their ball-handling and it hasn’t been ideal!

In those 31 games where they had him available, the Bucks were right in the middle of the pack at 14th in turnover rate. In the last six, the Bucks have the sixth-worst turnover rate. We’ve seen multiple games from Khris Middleton or Giannis Antetokounmpo posting high turnover games.

Aside from their most recent game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Bucks haven’t started a true point guard in Holiday’s absence, electing to start Wesley Matthews for defense purposes. That worked well against the respective players he was asked to guard (Steph Curry, Fred VanVleet), but they struggled with turnovers with a lack of a primary ball-handler.

Holiday’s absence has also forced the Bucks’ role players to step up and score more. It’s come at an unfortunate time with Pat Connaughton going through a recent slump (though he played well against the Hawks), Hill hasn’t shot the ball well, DiVincenzo has struggled mightily, and Wesley Matthews can’t be relied on for consistent offense.

Holiday was averaging 21 points on over 62 percent true shooting in 22 games before sitting out and that production has been difficult to replicate. He was putting together an All-Star campaign before sitting out and although they don’t expect it to be a serious injury or something that will hold him out too much longer.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks’ to-do list leading up to 2022 NBA trade deadline. dark

There are a couple of more difficult matchups on the horizon, the defending champs could use their starting point guard back sooner rather than later.