The Milwaukee Bucks need Eric Bledsoe if they want to have a legitimate shot at an NBA Finals run and the point guard seems up to the challenge.
Two years ago it was Scary Terry, Drew Bledsoe and the Boston Celtics. Last season it was a collapse in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors. No matter where he goes, Eric Bledsoe can’t escape his ghosts from playoffs past.
In many ways, that has carried over to this season as well. No matter what Bledsoe did, it was never going to be good enough to erase his past disappearing acts in the postseason. No matter how well he played, there are always going to be questions about his future playoff performances.
That’s the reality he’s facing this season despite having a career-year in many ways for the Milwaukee Bucks.
His per game averages may not show it, but Bledsoe really is enjoying a great season. His true shooting percentage (58.5 percent) and rebound percentage (8.7 percent) are career highs; his three-point percentage is the fourth-highest and his assist percentage is the third-highest.
Most notably, he appears to be playing with a regained sense of confidence–something he’s struggled with in the past two postseasons. Speaking of confidence, his Bucks’ teammates have always believed in Bledsoe. They trust him in big situations and count on him to attack his defender off the bounce and lock his man up in the half court.
The issue has always been that Bledsoe is his own worst critic. He appears to get into his own head at times, causing himself to visibly drag around the court when he’s not playing his best. Fortunately, he’s been able to avoid that so far this season.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting out most of the fourth quarter with foul trouble against the Washington Wizards on Monday night before eventually fouling out and missing all of overtime, Mike Budenholzer leaned heavily on Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe to carry the load. And Bledsoe came through in a big way.
He finished the contest with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. Most notably–he only took 11 field goal attempts (making seven of them) and went four-for-six from behind the arc, including a couple of big threes down the stretch.
This confidence is exactly what the Bucks need out of Bledsoe. Perhaps, part of the reason the national media is down on this historic team is due to the lingering concerns about Bledsoe’s playoff performances. Even if he can’t erase those question marks until May and June, he can keep working on his craft and building his own self-belief.