NBA Playoffs: 3 X-Factor Bucks who could surprise us, 2 who could fall flat

Apr 2, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Jae Crowder
Apr 7, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The Bucks finally get to be on the other side of playoff mode Jae Crowder

The Bucks aren’t newcomers to seeing Jae Crowder have an impact in the playoffs. Whether it was knocking them out of contention in 2020 with the Miami Heat or giving them trouble with the Phoenix Suns in 2021, the Bucks know the kind of damage that Crowder can inflict in the postseason. But this time, he’s on their side of the court, and that’s a differentiator that should excite every Bucks fan.

If you had to build the perfect complimentary player for Milwaukee, you might come up with someone looking a lot like Crowder. He doesn’t need the ball in his hands to make an impact; he’s perfectly content smacking threes and making opponents’ lives a living hell on the other end of the court.

Since arriving in Milwaukee in February, he’s shot a blistering 43 percent from behind the arc and played his typical brand of hard-nosed defense. He’s rounding into form after not playing for much of the season and hitting his stride at the perfect time.

Crowder’s defensive versatility is going to be particularly important for Milwaukee in the playoffs. Whether it’s getting physical with Donovan Mitchell, playing bully ball with his old Heat teammate Jimmy Butler, or going toe to toe with the star duo the Celtics have, Crowder should be looked to as an essential part of the Bucks’ defense for stretches at a time.

Unless I’ve glaringly overlooked it, I don’t think the NBA tracks “talking trash” as part of the box score, but that’s something that we shouldn’t disregard either. If the Bucks ever get down, Crowder isn’t above getting in an opponent’s face and mixing it up a bit. That kind of “he got that dawg in him” moment can be a catalyst to swing momentum back the Bucks’ way or put a game on ice.

He hasn’t been in Milwaukee long, but Crowder could surprise all of us with how he swings a playoff series the Bucks’ way. If he can help Milwaukee capture another title, it would be a storybook ending to the season for the former Marquette star.