May 24, 2022

In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday finally got himself a splashy stat line and signature moment to match those of his co-stars. On Saturday night, as the Bucks took a 3-2 series lead after clawing their way out of a 2-0 hole, Holiday tallied 27 points, four rebounds, 13 assists, three 3-pointers, two blocks and the biggest steal of his career — one of three he had on the evening.

It was a play that exemplified exactly why the Bucks traded so very much to land Holiday last offseason, why they lavished him with a monster contract extension back in April and why — despite his occasional bout of Eric Bledsoe-esque shooting and penchant for the periodic puzzling turnover — that splurge has been worth the price.

While Giannis Antetokounmpo was slapping up 40-point double-doubles and blocking alley-oops, and while Khris Middleton was going shot-for-shot with Devin Booker and dropping 24 second-half points, Holiday was busy making a somewhat less noticeable but still extremely important contribution: throwing a wrench in the gears of the Phoenix Suns’ finely tuned offensive orchestra.

In Game 1, the Bucks put Holiday on Booker, and he hounded the Suns’ 24-year-old All-Star into 27 points on 26 shooting possessions. But while that was going on, Chris Paul dominated the proceedings from start to finish. Primarily defended by P.J. Tucker, Paul torched Milwaukee’s pick-and-roll defense to the tune of 32 points and nine assists, roasting drop coverage and switches alike while generating 1.242 points per possession, according to Second Spectrum.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer then did what he’d previously been loath to do as the Bucks got knocked out of the past two postseasons: He adjusted. He used Holiday as Paul’s primary defender in Game 2, and in each of the past four games, Holiday has spent more possessions defending Paul than Booker.What makes LeBron James so great

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