How the Milwaukee Bucks’ role players stepped up vs. Memphis Grizzlies

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 19 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 19 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Prior to last night’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Milwaukee Bucks had a record of 3-6 throughout their first nine games of 2022. With one of the Western Conference’s top teams in town, the Bucks would need all hands on deck to get a win against this restless Grizzlies squad.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton paved the way for the defending champs, combining for 60 points, 22 rebounds, and 14 assists. Jrue Holiday also returned to the mix following a tough six-game absence, and although he showed understandable rust, it was certainly great to see him back in the lineup. While these three will get the most credit for Milwaukee’s 126-114 victory, the role players also deserve a shoutout as they contributed at an extremely high level.

Three Milwaukee Bucks’ role players that helped tremendously in Wednesday’s win against the Memphis Grizzlies

George Hill deserves some applause for his performance last night, notching his 14th start of the season as the Bucks opted to bring Holiday off the bench. The veteran guard looked fantastic with the expanded opportunity, scoring, facilitating, rebounding, and just hustling all night long. When it was over, the guard finished with a line of 14 points, six assists, six rebounds, and a steal with zero turnovers in 30 minutes of action. Hill’s impact was written all over this game, as shown by his +/- of +16 on the night, which was the best on the Bucks. After struggling to find his footing for most of the season, Hill has been heavily criticized for his sluggish efforts, but this performance may be the one to help him turn the corner for good.

Another Buck that helped was Pat Connaughton, who has been battling a pesky shooting slump for most of the month. The guard found a groove in Milwaukee’s last game vs. the Atlanta Hawks by scoring 14 points, and he carried that momentum over into the Memphis game. Providing a big spark off the bench, Connaughton chipped in 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc. In addition to his offense, the veteran was hustling from start to finish and even took yet another shot to the face that drew blood. Getting hit in the face has become somewhat of an inside joke for Connaughton and the Bucks this season because it seemingly happens night in and night out. However, if it means helping the team, Connaughton is always willing to sacrifice his body for the greater good.

That last Buck to make a massive impact was Wesley Matthews, who has been stellar all season in his return to Milwaukee. While he helped offensively by scoring seven points off the bench, his impact was largely felt due to his hustle and energy out on the floor. He played tenacious defense throughout, doing his part to make life tough for the Grizzlies whenever possible. Due to his play, Matthews finished with a +13 for the game, the second-best on the team behind Hill. It is beyond crazy that Matthews was sitting at home before the season, and now he has become an integral part of this title-contending team.

It was great to see this trio find their footing in such a pivotal game. Each has struggled to some degree at one point or another this season, but games like this show how impactful they can all be when they are clicking. Hopefully Hill, Connaughton, and Matthews can all keep the ball rolling as the Bucks look to get back to their winning ways in 2022.

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