Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen are the Milwaukee Bucks’ X-factors in Round 2

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 03 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 03 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Following two games at TD Garden, the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics find themselves tied at 1-1 in the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Throughout these first two matchups on the road, the Bucks have looked like two different teams. With the series shifting back to Milwaukee for the next two games, it is obvious that the Bucks will need to look like the team that took Game 1 rather than the one that was simply blown out of the building in Game 2. To do so, the Bucks will need two particular players to step up in Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen, who are the team’s biggest X-factors in this second round series.

Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen are the Milwaukee Bucks’ biggest X-factors after their first two games against the Boston Celtics

The reason why these two players are X-factors is because of how they can make life easier for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has had a tough series to this point. Through the first two games, the Celtics have done everything defensively to start and slow down Antetokounmpo, and it has worked as he is shooting an abysmal 38.5 percent from the floor. With Boston focusing so much on slowing down Antetokounmpo, Holiday and Allen are two players that can provide some help for the Greek Freak.

Holiday can provide some assistance by simply providing more consistent scoring as Milwaukee’s clear-cut second option with Khris Middleton sidelined. Through two games, Holiday is averaging 22 points per game, but it has been far from efficient as he has shot 15-of-40 (37.5 percent) from the field. With so much defensive attention being given to Antetokounmpo, Holiday needs to take on more responsibility and provide scoring with much better efficiency for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Two areas that the guard must clean up are his scoring in the restricted area and from behind the arc. According to NBA.com/stats, Holiday is shooting an abysmal 4-of-12 in the restricted area in this series thus far, having missed an array of shots right at the hoop. During the regular season, he was nearly automatic from that spot, particularly with his left hand, but that touch is nowhere to be found early on in this series. As for his outside shot, Holiday is shooting 36.4 percent for the series, but it has not been consistent in the first two games. In Game 1, the guard was great as he buried three triples in five attempts, but he was outright awful in Game 2 by shooting 1-of-6.

Everyone knows Holiday will provide reputable defense whenever he touches the floor, but the big question has always revolved around his offense. His production has been far from pretty during these first two games, but they desperately need him to get a grip with the series heading to the Cream City. Hopefully playing in front of the home crowd can get Holiday going, as Holiday must step up offensively with Antetokounmpo being hounded every possession down the floor.

As for Allen, his 3-point shooting could be a difference-maker in this series due to how much it could help out Antetokounmpo. When the defense converged on Antetokounmpo in Game 1, he consistently kicked it out to the perimeter, where reliable shooters like Allen were waiting for the pass to hoist a triple. This strategy helped Giannis tally 12 assists, with two of them coming as a result of Allen, who shot 2-of-2 from deep off passes from the two-time MVP, which helped him find his footing and tally 11 points on the afternoon.

In Game 2, it seemed like Giannis was more focused on scoring. Even though he still finished with seven assists, there were countless times when Antetokounmpo took ill-advised shots when he should have been looking for the open man on the perimeter. With Antetokounmpo attempting to attack, Allen had an incredibly quiet game as he tallied five points on and just one 3-point try for the entire game, which will simply not get the job done. In a game where the Bucks shot an awful 3-of-18 (16.7 percent) from behind the arc, they could have certainly used Allen’s perimeter shot, and to see him only have one attempt is troublesome and incredibly frustrating.

When Game 3 rolls around, the Bucks need to have Allen and Antetokounmpo attached at the hip whenever they share the floor. The Celtics will inevitably attempt to crowd the paint to challenge Antetokounmpo, and he should emphasize getting his teammates, particularly Allen, involved in the action. This strategy helped fuel Allen’s stellar series against the Chicago Bulls in the opening round of the playoffs as he shot a red-hot 8-of-11 from three off passes from Antetokounmpo. With his shot not falling like it typically does, Antetokounmpo must look to get the sharpshooter going when his own shot is not dropping. After a 3-of-18 showing from 3-point range in Game 2, the Milwaukee Bucks need to get one of the best shooters in Allen going offensively right away.

Both Holiday and Allen had some question marks surrounding them heading into this series, and they are now the Milwaukee Bucks’ biggest X-factors. If Holiday can find his stride offensively and if Allen can rekindle some of that magic from the Chicago series, it would boost Milwaukee’s odds with the series shifting home to Fiserv Forum.

Next. 5 crucial matchups in Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff series with Boston Celtics. dark

Be sure to catch Game 3 between the Bucks and Celtics this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CST on ABC.