Thanks to former Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, the Phoenix Suns are only three games away from winning their first title in franchise history, as the Suns walked away with a Game 1 victory on Tuesday night. Paul was the leading scorer in the contest with 32 points, while he also added an additional 9 assists, tying Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday for a game-high.
Speaking of the latter, Holiday struggled to get into a rhythm offensively, as he finished with just 10 points on 4-of-14 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range. With Giannis Antetokounmpo dealing with an injury that had him doubtful at the start of the day, the two-time MVP took just 11 shots, finishing with 20 points.
This made Holiday’s struggles stick out even more for Milwaukee, as they desperately needed the All-Star version of the point guard in order to counter what Paul was doing. During NBA TV’s post-game coverage, NBA Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal shared his thoughts on how Holiday can help the Bucks for the remainder of the series, citing the Houston Rockets’ title team in 1994-95 as an example of what Holiday must do.
Shaq explains how Jrue Holiday can learn from the Houston Rockets
“Khris Middleton is always going to get his shots up, but if Giannis is going to take just 11 shots, the next man is Jrue Holiday. He has to step up and be more aggressive.
It’s not his fault that they lost, he’s a true point guard. He’s supposed to get his guys involved first, and that’s what he’s been doing all year.
But this is the Finals. You have to step up, you have to rise to the occasion.
And sometimes you have to say ‘forget that, I’m going for mine.’
When we lost to Kenny Smith in 1994-95, I’m sure he wasn’t saying to himself, ‘hey, I’m going to take 7 threes versus the Orlando Magic.’
But we had to double Hakeem Olajuwon, Hakeem did the right thing and kicked it out to one of the best shooters in the league and he set a Finals record. He hit 7 threes.
So, you have to be ready, you have to be aggressive, and you can’t play good or pretty good. You have to be exceptional.”
O’Neal’s Orlando Magic faced off against the defending champion Rockets in the 1995 NBA Finals and were swept, in a match-up that he later described as him being dominated by NBA legend and Houston Rockets franchise great Hakeem Olajuwon. As Shaq mentioned, former Rockets guard Kenny Smith went 7-of-11 from long-range in Game 1 of the series, finishing with 23 points, while also dishing out 9 assists.
It’s safe to say that “The Jet” was ready for the moment, as he more than doubled his regular season average of 10.4 points from that year. Based on the play of Paul in Game 1, Holiday will need to apply O’Neal’s advice in order for the Bucks to have a shot at winning the title this season, especially if Antetokounmpo isn’t going to be 100% healthy for the rest of the way.