Giannis on Jrue Holiday's Struggles: 'He's Going to Be There When We Need Him Most'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2021

BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 19: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks hugs Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks after the game against the Brooklyn Nets during Round 2, Game 7 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 19, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo said Thursday he's confident teammate Jrue Holiday will bounce back after a slow start to the 2021 NBA Finals.

Holiday has connected on just 11 of his 35 shot attempts (31.4 percent) through the first two games of the Finals as the Phoenix Suns surged to a 2-0 series lead.

"I know he's going to be there when we need him the most, and I don't worry about it," Antetokounmpo told reporters after a 118-108 loss in Game 2. "He's a great basketball player. He's played great all year, and he's going to continue to play great for this team."

Holiday has found a way to impact the Finals in other ways, tallying 16 assists, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks while playing his typically strong defense, but the Bucks will need him to make his presence felt offensively if they're going to forge a comeback.

The 31-year-old UCLA product was aggressive attacking the rim Thursday night but couldn't get his shots to fall, going just 7-of-21 from the field.

"I think we had a lot of open shots that we didn't make," Holiday said. "I know me personally, there were a couple layups there that I usually make that kind of rimmed in and out. Had some good looks."

Holiday and the other three non-Giannis members of the starting lineup combined to make only 19 of their 52 field-goal attempts (36.5 percent) in Game 2, which squandered a standout showing from Antetokounmpo, who went 15-of-22 en route to 42 points.

"Just keep talking to him, keep telling him to be aggressive," Antetokounmpo said about what he'd tell Holiday for Game 3. "No matter what's going on, you've got to stay aggressive and you cannot get in your feelings. It's hard not to. You know, NBA Finals, 20,000 people booing you and all that, it's kind of hard."

Although the Suns are in the driver's seat with their 2-0 lead, the Bucks have been in this position before during their playoff run. They dropped the first two contests against the Brooklyn Nets before mounting a comeback to advance in seven games.

If they're going to replicate that comeback, Antetokounmpo is going to need more help from Holiday and Khris Middleton to keep pace with a deep Phoenix offensive attack led by Devin Booker and Chris Paul.

A critical Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.