Who has stepped up when Giannis Antetokounmpo has been limited?

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 16 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 16 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Giannis Antetokounmpo has played in 77 of the 80 playoff games for the Bucks since 2015. The Bucks are 45-35 in those 80 playoff games; they are 2-1 in those three games he didn’t play.

Giannis has been inactive for three playoff games in his career; twice in 2021 versus the Atlanta Hawks and once against Miami in the 2020 playoffs. In addition, there have been three games of the 77 Giannis has played in where he scored less than 10 points; twice in 2015 against the Chicago Bulls (he scored six in one game and five in the other in that series), and most recently on April 16 against Miami when he left the game with a back contusion after falling hard to the floor against the Heat. He had scored only six points in that game until his departure.

So, here’s the question: When Giannis either sits out a playoff game or scores fewer than 10 points in a post-season contest, who picks up the scoring slack? Is it Khris Middleton? Jrue Holiday? Brook Lopez?

If you guessed Middleton, you are correct. Here is a look at the six playoff games where Giannis either was inactive or scored less than 10 points, and who picked up the slack for the team in that contest.

Who has stepped up when Giannis Antetokounmpo has been limited?

4-2-2015 vs. Bulls: Loss, 91-82. Middleton led the team in scoring with 22 points. The only other Bucks player to score in double figures was Michael Carter-Williams with 12 points.

4-30-2015 vs. Bulls: Loss 120-66. Zaza Pachulia was the Bucks leading scorer with eight points.

9-8-2020 vs. Heat: Loss 103-94. Middleton led the Bucks with 23 points. The other Bucks players in double-figures for that game were Brook Lopez (15), Wesley Matthews (11), Donte DiVincenzo (17), and Marvin Williams (11).

7-1-2021 vs. Hawks: Win 123-112. Lopez led the Bucks in scoring with 33 points. Middleton (26), Jrue Holiday (25), and Bobby Portis (22) each were in double-figures for the game.

7-3-2021 vs. Hawks: Win 118-107. Middleton led the Bucks with 32 points. Five more Bucks scored in double-figures: Holiday (27), Lopez (12), Portis (12), Pat Connaughton (13), and Jeff Teague (11).

4-16-2023 vs. Heat: Loss 130-117. Middleton was the Bucks’ leading scorer with 33. Portis added 21, followed by Holiday with 16, Grayson Allen with 12, and Lopez with 10.

I think you can see that when Giannis is inactive or has a poor scoring night, Middleton is the player the Bucks depend on to fill that void. But what is also obvious is that Holiday, Portis, and Lopez also need to have big-scoring games if the Bucks are to win a playoff contest.

And, it doesn’t hurt to have a bench player tally 10 or more points.

One more stat: In playoff games where Giannis Antetokounmpo has less than 20 points or does not play, the Bucks are 10-11 (.476); in playoff games where Giannis has 20 or more points, the Bucks are 35-24 (.593).

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