Jrue Holiday is a master of larceny.
Stripping the ball (and a chunk of pride) away from Chris Paul in Game 4, as the perennial All-Star stumbled onto the Fiserv Forum floor.
Wrestling the ball away from Devin Booker in Game 5 like a stickup kid yanking a purse away from an unsuspecting woman.
Throwing a series-defining clutch lob to Giannis Antetokounmpo in the final seconds of Game 5, giving the Milwaukee Bucks a 3-2 lead over the Phoenix Suns.
While Antetokounmpo left his undeniably dominant imprint on the NBA Finals, Holiday played a huge role in delivering Milwaukee their first championship in 50 years by providing sporadic but key contributions on offense and being a disruptor and clear threat on defense.
Here’s how Holiday’s ski-mask stylings and brute finesse turned the series around for the Bucks.
Adapt and Adjust
Going into the series, the Bucks’ scheme was for P.J. Tucker to guard Paul in an attempt to switch the Suns’ pick-and-roll attack with Paul and Deandre Ayton. Brook Lopez would end up guarding Paul, while Tucker defends Ayton. That is, until Paul torched Lopez and anyone else on the perimeter in Game 1, for 32 points and nine assists.
In Game 3, trailing 0-2, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer abandoned the switches and the over-helping and played the Suns straight up, with Holiday leading the charge.
At the 3:03 mark of the video above, Holiday fights over the screen just in time to recover and press into Paul. Paul eventually finds a sliver of space to score on the mid-range jumper, but Holiday continued to contest after fighting those screens.
Look at Holiday in the post at the 4:35 mark. It seems as if Booker had the advantage in size and position on this play, but Holiday doesn’t give up and blocks Booker from behind, which leads to a dunk for Bobby Portis in transition.
In Games 2 and 3, Holiday made Paul and Booker work harder for their shots. While it took some time to adjust and defend Paul, Holiday really made his presence felt with his defense on Booker. In 27 minutes in which he was guarded by Holiday, Booker shot 11-for-31 (35.5% from the field) and only scored 24 points.