PHOENIX – Jrue Holiday knows what everyone wants him to do. No one needs to tell him to be more aggressive offensively. Or to continue firing that his shot eventually starts to fall.
“We always throw it out there,” said his father, Shawn Holiday.
But Shawn has been coaching his son long enough to know how self-sufficient he is. By the time he got into Game 5 of those NBA Finals, Holiday had hit only 33% of his shots (23-of-69), including a particularly ugly 4-to-20 in Game 4.
“After the match, we can get in the car and say, ‘It’s a tough one,'” Shawn said. “But we really don’t talk much about the game, because he already knows what to do.”
Be more aggressive. Keep shooting. Trust that his shot will eventually fall.
“My dad thinks I’m the best player in the world,” Holiday said with a smile after scoring 27 points, handing out 13 assists and creating tonight’s game with a steal from Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker with 16.7 seconds left Saturday tonight game 5. A perfect spawn-up to teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo followed to seal the Milwaukee Bucks’ 123-119 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the final.
“He just feels like I can do anything – play 48 minutes, I do not have to get out, I do not need a break. But just be aggressive the whole game.”
As Jrue points out, his father is a bit biased when it comes to him. But Shawn’s message to stay the course is important here.
How many star players could fight off the field as much as Jrue Holiday had before Saturday night and not get down on themselves?
How many would shrug their shoulders after a 4-to-20 shooting ability and just be happy that the team claimed the win?
“We still won,” Holiday said. “And I know I can do other things to influence the game.”
The holiday has been phenomenal against Phoenix ‘megawatt backcourt by Chris Paul and Booker. According to Second Spectrum, in 268 matchups, with Holiday being the primary defender on Booker or Paul, they average just 22 points per game. 100 possessions. Against all other Bucks defenders, the duo has an average of 39.7 points per game. 100 possessions. Holiday has forced Paul to an uncharacteristic 10 turnover and Booker in eight.
One of those turnovers, of course, was the game that ended up deciding Game 5.
The Suns recovered from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter behind the clutch’s shot from Booker, Paul and Mikal Bridges and a series of three unanswered free throws from Antetokounmpo.
After Paul cut the lead to 120-119 with 56 seconds left, Booker had a chance to give the Suns the lead. He drove past PJ Tucker into the teeth of the Bucks defense. Antetokounmpo turned around to stop his drive, leaving Booker with only choice but to turn away from him.
Holiday had watched the game unfold as he defended Paul near the 3-point arc. He could not travel too early, otherwise Booker could find the open Paul. But he could not come too late either, or Booker would have seen a pure look at a shot out of his spin-pull.
As has been the case so often in this series, Holiday’s timing was perfect. He fell down as Booker turned, tore the ball away from him without contaminating, and then hurried down the field on a quick break where Antetokounmpo was in a full sprint, ready for alley-oop.
“Honestly, it was a good team defense,” Holiday said. “I feel like we knew Booker wanted to take the last shot and played a good defense on him and made him turn his back and he turned right into me. I guess I was right on that. the right place at the right time. “
Giannis Antetokounmpo walks Malika Andrews through Jrue Holiday’s crucial steal on Devin Booker as the Bucks are on the verge of an NBA title.
Teammate Pat Connaughton was a little more exhaustive.
“First team All-Defense player. It was a defensive player of the year [play], “Said Connaughton.
Up in the stands, Shawn and Toya Holiday saw the decisive order with a small group of Bucks family members and friends. They have lived with their second eldest son in his house in Milwaukee through these playoffs and traveled to every road game.
They were happy, but not too so considering that their son had just turned his best performance in the Bucks’ most important playoff game to date, which has left them with a win away from their first title since 1971 with Game 6 on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
“He’s been through this before where his shots don’t fall,” Shawn says. “But people need to understand that there is more to the game than scoring. He runs the team and controls the pace of the game through defense.
“So we’re just asking him to stay the course.”
Stay tuned, and nights like Game 5 happen.