Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley considers Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury a blessing in disguise for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks created history recently when they clinched their first NBA Finals berth in over 4 decades. The Milwaukee team defeated the Atlanta Hawks 4-2 in the ECF.
Giannis, who was exceptional in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, succumbed to an injury during Game Four of the ECF, which would keep him out for the remaining of the series.
Nevertheless, the supporting cast of the Bucks stepped up in a big way, punching their ticket to the NBA Finals despite Giannis being absent for Games Five and Six.
The likes of Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Jrue Holiday played a major role in defeating the Atlanta Hawks, who were also minus their superstar Trae Young due to injury.
The rise of Jrue Holiday amidst the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo
During the 2020-21 off-season, the Milwaukee Bucks acquired guard Jrue Holiday in a 4 team deal. The Bucks shipped Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and some future first-round picks to acquire Holiday.
The Bucks were in desperate need to give Giannis the much-needed ammunition he needed to win an NBA title. Holiday was a perfect fit for the team as he could play both ends of the floor.
The 2013 NBA All-Star averaged 17.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 4.5 RPG on a 50.3% shooting from the field during the 2020-21 regular season. The Bucks guard continued to impress in the post-season as well.
The absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo saw Holiday rise to the occasion. The elite 2-way guard had 25-points in Game Five of the ECF, followed by a 27-points performance in Game Six that helped the Bucks reach the NBA Finals.
NBA veteran Charles Barkley had the following to say post when the Milwaukee Bucks were crowned eastern conference champions:
“I hate to say this. I think the best thing that happened to the Milwaukee Bucks was Giannis getting hurt Because they have unleashed Jrue Holiday — the aggressive Jrue Holiday. I think he is going to be fantastic in the Finals against Chris Paul. If Giannis is 85-90 percent, I’m going to go with Milwaukee.”
It will be interesting to see if Holiday would be able to limit veteran point guard Chris Paul, who has been on the tear since he arrived at Phoenix Suns.
It’s official — Jrue Holiday will battle Chris Paul in the 2021 NBA Finals! One of these two former New Orleans guards will get their first championship ring!! 🏀🏆 pic.twitter.com/MMaCMZfi6b
— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) July 4, 2021
Though the Milwaukee Bucks have done an exceptional job despite Giannis being absent due to injury in Games Five and Six. The likes of Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis have elevated their game during this time of crisis.
However, the Bucks will need their superstar back as they go against a heavily stacked Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals.