The Celtics acquired Jrue Holiday with the NBA Finals as their goal, and now they are just two victories away from the championship

The acquisition of Jrue Holiday was precisely for moments like this, as the Boston Celtics have realized.

As Boston’s Eastern Conference finals loss to Miami came to a close last season, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens and the rest of the front office were left with a crucial question to answer.

To what extent were they prepared to alter the foundation of a squad that had suffered a defeat in the NBA Finals in 2022 and narrowly missed out on making a comeback the next season by just one game?

The Celtics made a bold move by trading their veteran point guard Marcus Smart in exchange for the towering 7-footer, Kristaps Porzingis. Furthermore, they capitalized on Milwaukee’s trade of Holiday to Portland to acquire Damian Lillard, as the Celtics offered former NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, and big man Robert Williams III in exchange for Holiday.

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The Celtics’ bold moves have proven to be just what the team needed, resulting in an impressive 64-win regular season, a comfortable victory in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and a commanding 2-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

Holiday is a defensive-minded player who showed off his skills by limiting Kyrie Irving in Game 2, while also contributing 26 points and 11 rebounds to help Boston secure a 105-98 victory. This game was just another example of how Holiday is thriving in his role on the team.

Before the Finals, Holiday expressed his contentment with the situation, saying, “I believe that this is exactly how things were meant to be. I am pleased to be present in this moment.”

During this season, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla has emphasized the importance of being present in the moment, and that’s exactly what I have been striving to do.

At 33 years of age, Holiday has proven to be a valuable asset for the Celtics. He has shown great flexibility by adapting his game to meet the team’s needs throughout the season. This ability to adjust has contributed significantly to his success on the team.

During the Bucks’ championship season in 2020-21, Holiday played as the No. 3 scorer behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. However, in Boston, he has willingly accepted being the fourth or fifth option. His regular season scoring average of 12.5 points per game is the lowest he has had since his rookie season.

During certain instances, like in Game 2, the Dallas team decided to double-team the All-Star player, Jayson Tatum, which led to added pressure on Jaylen Brown. Additionally, when Porzingis encountered difficulties, Jrue Holiday had to step up and increase his performance.

Maintaining his intensity on the defensive end this season, he has achieved a remarkable feat by being selected for the NBA All-Defensive second team. This is the sixth time he has been picked for either the first or second team in his illustrious career.

According to Holiday, the team’s success is a result of the strong bond they have developed over the course of the season.

“He expressed that sacrificing and working together can bring people closer. Going through victories and defeats while building something as a team holds a significant value. From the first to the fifteenth roster spot, every individual has made sacrifices.”

Holiday’s transition to Boston has been made smoother, in part, thanks to his prior relationship with Tatum. The two basketball players had the opportunity to play together on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, which went on to win a gold medal during the Tokyo Olympics.

According to Tatum, his periodic check-ins with Holiday throughout the season were made easier due to their strong relationship.

Tatum shared that he would often remind his teammate to stay true to himself and be confident in important moments, specifically referencing Game 2. “We’re going to need you,” he would tell him.

Holiday has been able to play to his strengths, particularly his skill in bringing a sense of composure to the court amidst Mazzulla’s controlled frenzy.

During crucial moments in the playoffs, Holiday has provided much-needed stability to his team. In past playoff runs, the team has struggled under pressure, often resorting to one-on-one play or making costly turnovers. However, with Holiday on the court, the team has been able to maintain composure and perform at a higher level during these critical moments.

Holiday has experience playing alongside a star like Antetokounmpo and bringing out the best in them. Although players like Smart may be dominant alphas on the court, Holiday understands the importance of supporting and elevating his teammates.

Tatum refused to consider the possibility of the Celtics being without Holiday on their team, when asked to imagine the scenario.

He expressed relief, stating, “It’s fortunate that we don’t need to discover the answer.”

Holiday’s future with the team is secured as he signed a four-year extension in April, regardless of the outcome of the remaining Finals.

Holiday expressed a sense of belonging and purpose when he said, “I’m supposed to be here, with my teammates. We’re meant to do this together.”

He will only consider his arrival in Boston a success if he accomplishes a certain goal.

He expressed, “The journey has been amazing and I am grateful for it, but we still have unfinished business.”

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MBS Staff
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