Skip to main content

UCLA Men’s Basketball: Insiders Unpack Former Bruin’s 2023 Playoff Breakdown

A totally unexpected result.

Despite finally earning credit from the national media as one of the league's greatest defenders, one former UCLA Bruin certainly didn't look the part in the 2023 NBA playoffs, when his team suffered a shocking early exit. 

Regarding his performance for the Milwaukee Bucks in their first round upset loss to the Miami Heat, one of Jrue Holiday's former teammates wondered how such an outcome was possible considering his defensive pedigree. 

"Playing with Jrue and against Jrue, he's such a good and sound defender. He's just physical and strong. I've never seen somebody go at him like that and talk to him like that. He wasn't talking to Jrue like they're up 3-1 in the series and the game's about to run out. He's talking to Jrue in the second quarter, first quarter. And it's early in the series. And you've gotta deal with this guy the rest of the series. And Jimmy's just at him. He's at everyone. He was at the whole team. And he just kept going."

via Austin Rivers, The Bill Simmons Podcast

While brought in as the final piece to the Bucks' championship puzzle, Holiday's renowned defense and ball movement from the 2021 title run for Milwaukee was shockingly absent from their 2023 series when it came to guarding Jimmy Butler. 

Lighting the Bucks up for 56 points in game 4 and a huge comeback win in overtime of game 5, the Heat extinguished the Bucks in one of the worst series of Holiday's playoff career. 

Hailed as a lockdown defender, Butler treated the former Bruin like a traffic cone and bullied his way to the NBA Finals as an eighth seed. 

As Milwaukee still has Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo who was hurt in the series, the Bucks will look to correct their playoff failure under new coach Adrian Griffin in 2024. 

Don't forget to join our community at LA Sports Report, where we celebrate all things Bruins!