The Milwaukee Bucks need this version of Jrue Holiday in the playoffs

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16 (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

I’m sure there will be some who argue this, but for my money, this has been the best overall season of Jrue Holiday‘s career. Not just his Milwaukee Bucks career, but his entire 13-year career.

He has seasons where he averaged more points, rebounds, or assists per game, and hey, maybe his defense has been better in a particular season (especially when you see him taking a few possessions off here or there this season), but this is his best work.

And yet, here I am worrying about what will happen when we reach the playoffs.

Can Jrue Holiday carry his regular season performance into the postseason for the Milwaukee Bucks?

When I say this is Jrue Holiday’s best season, it would be hard to argue against. He’s averaging 18.6 points on 59.6 true shooting, 4.4 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.6 steals. He is posting a 29.3 assist rate and a 57.4 effective field goal rate. His two shooting efficiency stats are the best of his career.

Outside of his fantastic season averages, he has also been unbelievable in the fourth quarter of games since the All-Star break. Holiday has turned into a 2B to Khris Middleton’s 2A.

I want to buy in and believe that this version of Holiday is the one that the Milwaukee Bucks will see in the playoffs.

Holiday was basically this good last season (17.7 points on 59.2 percent true shooting, similar rebound, assist, and steal numbers as well) but we saw how it went in the playoffs.

We saw flashes of the playoff version of Holiday to begin the season and that was cause for a bit of concern, but he eventually quelled those with some dominant performances that should have led to him being an All-Star.

Holiday still averaged over 17 points during the championship run, but his efficiency numbers fell right off. He posted a 48.2 percent true shooting (nine percent below league average) and a 46.1 percent effective field goal rate (over seven percent below league average).

He went from shooting over 39 percent from 3 in the regular season on nearly five attempts to right around 30 percent on over six attempts per game.

It was good that Holiday remained aggressive and continued to look for his shot, but at a certain point, things just weren’t working.

There were flashes of that regular-season-version of Holiday, namely in the Eastern Conference Finals where he averaged 22 points on 55.4 percent true shooting, including 37 percent from 3, but it wasn’t consistent enough.

The biggest concern was that he shot nearly 12 percent worse in the restricted area from last year’s regular season to the playoffs. He’s not shooting as well inside this season (61.4 percent), compared to last, but that’s much closer to where they need him to be.

Yeah, the Bucks were still able to win the NBA championship without Holiday being a consistent scoring threat, but boy it would sure be nice to have three reliable options to go to late in games, huh?

This may be nothing, but the Bucks also now have two guys who can give Holiday a rest when he sits but also when he’s on the floor while one of George Hill or Jevon Carter defends the lead ball-handler for a few possessions. It could be something!

I want to give him the benefit of the doubt and to be fair, he was still fantastic as a defender as well as a playmaker in last year’s playoffs. But getting a consistent and efficient 17 to 18 points in the postseason would be a huge boost to the Bucks’ hopes of repeating.

Holiday is absolutely rolling as we head down the stretch and some of his best performances have come in the fourth quarter when the lights were brightest and the competition was at its best. It gives me hope, but at the same time, that playoff performance from a year ago is itching in the back of my mind.

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If I were a betting man, I’d put money down that we won’t see a version of Holiday that bad as a scorer again in this year’s playoffs. But I’m not a betting man for a reason.