The Milwaukee Bucks made a big splash this offseason when they acquired Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans in what ended up being a mega four-team trade. Unfortunately, Holiday hasn't had much of a chance to settle in with his new team.
Due to a stint in the league's health and safety protocols, Holiday has been limited to just 23 games in his first season with the Bucks. Thankfully for Milwaukee, he's on his way back and likely to play as soon as Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Holiday has been sidelined for nearly three weeks and has missed the Bucks' last 10 games. While nothing has been confirmed, such a lengthy absence could mean he tested positive for COVID-19. Khris Middleton's comments after the team's win over the Denver Nuggets earlier this month back that up.
"You definitely think about it, especially for Jrue," Middleton said. "It's nothing to play around with. And once he tested positive, you immediately think about his health, his safety and then his family back home. He has little kids too that he has to worry about. So, I think that was a huge part of what was going through my mind before the game. Just thinking about him and his family back home."
Without Holiday in the lineup, the Bucks have been hot and cold, registering a 5-5 record that included a five-game losing streak and a current four-game winning streak. Holiday's return will give them a big boost as they look to make it five wins in a row on Sunday. In particular, they'll need Holiday's defensive abilities against the high-powered Clippers.
Obviously his absence isn't the only factor, but just look at this difference on the defensive end:
|Bucks||Defensive rating||League rank|
Prior to Holiday entering protocol
During Holiday's absence
Holiday, who was averaging a career-high 1.9 steals per game before entering the protocol, is the Bucks' best perimeter defender, and often responsible for guarding the team's primary offensive option. It might take a while before he can do that for 30-plus minutes a night again, but just having his presence back on the floor will be massive for the Bucks.