How will the Milwaukee Bucks defend Ja Morant?
Another game for the Bucks, another point guard playing at an All-Star level this season. From LaMelo Ball to Steph Curry to Fred VanVleet to Trae Young to playing Ja Morant tonight, the Bucks have had to run the gamut of talented offensive point guards and, for the most part, have had to do so without Jrue Holiday.
They’ve had varying degrees of success against those guards. They contained Curry in a win, they contained VanVleet but lost, Young had a very good game and led a comeback win. Tonight will be another difficult task for the Bucks, whether they have Holiday or not.
Morant is playing at an MVP level this season, averaging over 24 points on 57.2 percent true shooting (35.5 percent from 3) to go along with 5.7 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Many (unjustifiably) questioned whether the Grizzlies were better off without Morant when they went on their initial tear after he suffered a knee sprain.
However, as I noted earlier, most of that came due to better shooting luck than the team magically being better without their superstar point guard. He has been their emotional and on-court leader this season and their offense flows through him.
In two games against the Bucks last season, Morant had two very different performances. In their first game (a one-point loss), Morant scored 35 points on a night where Holiday was still working his way back from health and safety protocols.
In their second game (a 13-point win), Morant was held to only 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting. It was actually Grayson Allen who went off for the Grizzlies that night with seven 3s.
If Holiday is back tonight, he will likely be on a minutes restriction of some sort like he was earlier this season when he came back from his first ankle injury. Morant will see a heavy dose of Wesley Matthews, George Hill, and Donte DiVincenzo like they’ve thrown at the other guards they’ve faced recently.
Others can get loose on offense for the Grizzlies (Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane being the primary two), but things all go through Morant and that’s the key to slowing down their offense.