The NBA Playoffs is a completely different animal than the regular season. Defenses are tighter, game-play is slower, and games are closer. When this occurs, anything can happen. We saw the Cavaliers upset a Warriors team that was 73-9 in 2016, last year a veteran Los Angeles Clippers team was upset by a young Utah Jazz team in its first post-season appearance since 2012.
These upsets were caused by supporting players failing to step up when the defensive attention was placed elsewhere. In 2016 it was Harrison Barnes, who averaged just 9.3 points on 35.2% shooting and 31.0% from three in 31.7 minutes per game.
In 2017, it was Chris Paul‘s back court teammates J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Austin Rivers who failed to step up. The Clippers were up 2-1 on Utah, and Blake Griffin got hurt. Instead of scrapping it out and stepping up to the moment, those three shot a combined 17/59 in all three subsequent Clipper losses – 28.8% from the field. If the right players don’t step up to the moment, then their teams will fail in the playoffs. Here are the players who need to step up this season for their teams:
Milwaukee Bucks: Jason Terry
Terry in Wins: 3.8 PPG, 49.2% FG, 46.8% 3P, 1.14 PPP, 1.09 PPPA
Terry in Losses: 2.8 PPG, 30.4% FG, 24.5% 3P, 0.82 PPP, 1.18 PPPA
Jason Terry might stand out as an odd pick for a difference maker role. He’s not a high scorer at this point in his career, and he was just 8th in minutes played and 11th in minutes per game for Milwaukee this season. Still, Terry brings a veteran presence to a young bucks team. Terry is the only healthy player to have won a championship, and is not only the sole-40 year old on the active roster, but the sole player with over 30 years of age as well. While the volume hasn’t been the highest, the difference in Milwaukee’s play shows up in the numbers when Terry serves as a floor general who is hitting the threes he attempts in wins versus the useless, undersized, old, slow guard who cant make open shots in losses. Joe Prunty is at a huge coaching disadvantage against Brad Stevens, and will need every lick of insight and leadership Terry can bring.