For most of us, the Miami Heat dismantling the Milwaukee Bucks and winning in a gentleman’s sweep was surprising. It also seemed as though Giannis and the Bucks’ coaching staff had no answer to the intensity and toughness of the Heat. It might seem as though the future of the Bucks is in question. But there might be an easier fix than people think.
No, it’s not firing coach Budenholzer. Yet.
It’s trading for multiple time all-star and ultimate floor general Chris Paul.
Throughout the regular season and his short playoff run, CP3 once again proved that he can be a go-to guy in the last few minutes of a close, important game. He spearheaded the best fourth quarter and late game team during the regular season (winning 67% of clutch regular-season games while shooting 49.2% from the field and outscoring teams by 2.3 points per game).
During his 70 regular-season games throughout the 2019-20 season, Paul put up impressive numbers in clutch situations. He played in 43 clutch games, tied for first in the league. In those 43 games, he played 3.9 minutes a game, averaging 3.5 points in those minutes.
And, during the postseason, where the pressure is higher and he was playing the best playoff defensive team in the Houston Rockets, Chris Paul came through on multiple occasions, most notably in game 6. He scored 15 points in the 4th quarter of that game.
In his 7-game postseason run, Paul averaged 4.5 ppg in clutch minutes while shooting 45.5% from the field and going 3-1 over those four games. The Thunder outscored the Rockets by 2.3 ppg in those clutch minutes.
Now, if you were to take a look at the stars the Bucks already have, you might think that they should be fine with their current roster. You would be right. But for whatever reason, they can’t close out close games. Granted, it’s tough to make it a close game but if a team can stay close for the first 45 minutes, it raises their chances of winning tremendously.
Part of the reason for that is Giannis’ playstyle. In a half-court offense, when you know the Bucks will give Giannis the ball, all a team needs to do is form a wall like the Raptors in 2019 or the Heat in 2020. Giannis is too predictable, so teams just force other guys to take shots, which has been proven to be a successful strategy in the playoffs.
Half of the Bucks’ ten playoff games involved clutch minutes. The Bucks were 1-4 in those five games and all of those games were against the Heat. As a team, Milwaukee shot 36% from the field, only scoring 6 points per game in 3.7 minutes a game. They got outscored by 3.4 points in those 3.7 minutes.
That’s where CP3 ties in.
With Giannis being too predictable and Khris Middleton just being bad in crunch time (31% FG, 2.8ppg/3.6mpg in the 2020 playoffs), Chris Paul’s leadership and fearlessness can add a whole new dimension to an already great Milwaukee Bucks team.
Photo: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports