3 Milwaukee Bucks’ X-factors in playoff matchup versus Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 12 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 12 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – DECEMBER 25 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Jrue Holiday will be a Milwaukee Bucks’ X-factor in their second round series vs. Boston Celtics

Once Khris Middleton went down in Game 2, Jrue Holiday was forced to step up for the Bucks, and his efforts were hit or miss. Offensively, the guard had some great moments, such as his 26-point effort in Game 4, but then he followed that up with a lackluster 10-point outing in Game 5. Where he really shined was the defensive side of the basketball as Holiday held his opponents to 30.9 percent shooting in this first round series. Given what he brings on both ends of the floor, Holiday will be a major X-factor for Milwaukee against this tough Boston team.

With their second-leading scorer out of the lineup, the Bucks desperately need Holiday to find his stride on that side of the ball. He averaged a passable 16.4 points per game versus the Bulls, but his shooting splits proved troublesome as he shot 40.7 percent from the field, 34.5 percent from three, and 60 percent from the free throw line. This is a series where the Bucks will likely need the veteran guard to average 20 or more points, and he must improve his efficiency. Sticking with his play offensively, he must also cut back on the turnovers. He tallied 20 of them in the first round of the playoffs, which is tied for the seventh-most in the postseason currently. Holiday must make smarter decisions while taking smarter shots, as his contributions offensively will be crucial.

While Holiday’s offense will be crucial, his defense could be even more important, as Boston is a team full of talented options offensively. Holiday will likely start the series guarding Jayson Tatum, who has been on a tear over the second half of the season, but he will also see plenty of time with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and others. If Holiday can replicate the success that he saw in round one, it would make Milwaukee’s defense even more formidable. Among playoff participants that have defended at least 30 shots thus far, Holiday held his opponents to the lowest percentage in the league, which showcases his brilliance on that end of the court. Given the handful of scorers on this Boston roster, Holiday will be quite busy trying to duplicate that same success.

If Holiday can play efficient basketball on the offensive end while also providing reputable defense, this series could go more smoothly for the Bucks. They need him to step up to the task and play as their unquestioned second-best player.

Next. The Milwaukee Bucks’ role players are starring in their roles in Round 1. dark

Be sure to catch the must-see action this coming Sunday at 12:00 p.m. CST on ABC.