Wesley Matthews will be an X-factor in Milwaukee Bucks’ first round series

Mar 22, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks are officially set to begin their title defense this coming Sunday when they host a familiar foe in the Chicago Bulls.

While every player that hits the floor for the defending champions will be important in this series, one that could be a massive difference-maker is Wesley Matthews. Having been inserted into the starting five recently, all signs point to Matthews remaining the starting two-guard for the Bucks’ first round series, which makes sense, as he could be an X-factor against this Chicago Bulls team.

Why Wesley Matthews could be an X-factor for the Milwaukee Bucks in their first round series with Chicago Bulls

The biggest reason behind head coach Mike Budenholzer’s decision to start Matthews in place of Grayson Allen was to add more defensive experience into the starting lineup. It has proven to be a solid move to this point as Matthews has held his opponents to 28-of-67 shooting (41.8 percent) in his last six appearances as a starter. Matthews has the best percentage on the Bucks over their last eight games, showing off his impact on the defensive side of things.

While he has played well defensively, the swingman has been no slouch on offense either, as he is averaging 7.5 points per contest while shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from behind the arc since becoming a full-time starter. After struggling to find any consistency for most of the season, Matthews has seemingly found a groove on that side of things, and it comes at the perfect time with the NBA Playoffs about to kick off.

Due to his recent strong effort on both sides of the ball, Matthews could be Milwaukee’s X-factor in the first round against the Chicago Bulls.

Defensively, Matthews will have his hands full guarding DeMar DeRozan, who is among the great scorers in today’s NBA. During the 102.2 partial possessions that Matthews defended DeRozan throughout their four meetings in the regular season, DeRozan got the upper hand as he scored a solid 37 points on 16-of-31 shooting (51.6 percent). Keeping DeRozan in check will be among the most notable keys to victory for the Bucks in this series, and it will primarily be Matthews’ job to slow him down. If he can continue this recent stretch of strong defensive play, it would be a huge boost for the Bucks as they look to win this series. Guarding DeRozan is far easier said than done, but if Matthews can make every possession difficult for him, that defensive intensity could make a significant difference in this series.

Where things get interesting is the offensive side of things. Given that Matthews is Milwaukee’s fifth scoring option in the starting lineup, they will not rely on him too heavily in that department. However, if Matthews can keep his recent hot streak alive and knock down his 3-pointers on the regular with some consistency, it would make the Milwaukee Bucks’ offense that much stronger. The swingman has struggled to find a groove offensively all season long, but it appears that the move into the starting five has given him a much-needed boost over these past six games, and the defending champions will need him to keep it up.

In short, Matthews will play a pivotal role in this series due to his defense, but he could also make a noticeable impact offensively. If he is playing up to his recent standards on both ends of the ball, his X-factor status will be incredibly noticeable.

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Keep an eye on Matthews when the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls hit the floor on Sunday.