Bucks

Matthews Has Become Bucks’ New Tucker

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I am not sure the expectation was for Wesley Matthews to be the Milwaukee Bucks’ new P.J. Tucker.

It appears he could be just that, though.

Tucker was a pivotal acquisition in Milwaukee’s first NBA Championship run in 50 seasons last year. Tucker was a dogged defender on the opposing team’s best wing player, allowing Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton not to be burdened with that assignment.

This year, that task has been dubbed to Matthews. He appears up to the challenge, too, as the Bucks aim to repeat as NBA Champions.

Matthews is a defensive headache

Through one round and one game, Matthews looks the part of Tucker.

He made things difficult for DeMar DeRozan, he knocked down his 3s at an elite rate. DeRozan sizzled in the Bucks’ lone win, but Matthews shut him down for the most part. Coach Mike Budenholzer also helped switching the look on DeRozan in Games 3 and 4.

Bud had defensive stalwart Jrue Holiday take turns guarding DeRozan at times. The duo has bounced back-and-forth on the two, giving DeRozan and Zach LaVine different looks. LaVine missed Game 5, but he wasn’t having success either.

Along with Grayson Allen‘s standout performances, the defense put forth by Holiday and Matthews are part of the reason for the Bucks’ thorough dismantling of the Bulls in Chicago.

And Giannis too, of course.

Overshadowed but vital for Bucks

Allen’s sizzling shooting display in Chicago was great to see with Middleton missing Games 3-5 with a sprained left MCL in his knee. Allen scorching the nets may have completely overshadowed what Matthews has given the Bucks.

Matthews signed with Milwaukee on Dec. 3. He wasn’t on an NBA roster after a pretty poor 2020 season with the Lakers. Matthews has been underrated in the Bucks’ defensive turnaround in recent months along with Brook Lopez‘s return. Outside of Game 2, he was great defending DeRozan and LaVine. In Games 3 and 5, Matthews helped hold DeRozan to 11 points in each game.

Like last year with Tucker, Matthews isn’t leaned on for his offense. If he knocks down open 3s and plays solid defense, the Bucks will sign-up.

Matthews did that in Round 1. Against the Bulls, Matthews hit multiple 3s in four of five games and shot 47.6 percent from 3 (10-for-21) overall.

Rugged Matthews key for Bucks

Matthews’ contributions against the Celtics could very well swing the result. In their Game-1 defensive destruction Sunday afternoon, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined to shoot just 10-for-31 (32.3%).

Matthews will continue to get time on him as well to vary looks. Slowing those two talented wings will go a long way towards deciding this series for the Bucks, particularly with no Khris.

Pretty good for a guy signed off the street in December.

About Mitchell Skurzewski

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