Jrue Holiday Starts Eastern Conference Finals with Best Game as a Celtic

May 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday.
May 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) shoots the ball against Boston Celtics guard Jrue Holiday. / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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On the eve of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Derrick White shared that he took reaching this round three straight years for granted until a conversation with Jrue Holiday, who informed his teammate that this is his second trip in 15 tries.

The 14-year veteran maximized his first opportunity, helping propel the Bucks to a championship. He started his second appearance in the NBA's final four with his best game as a Celtic.

Holiday played 48 of 53 minutes on Tuesday. Offensively, he consistently pushed the pace, attacked downhill, and produced a season-high 28 points on 10/16 shooting, made 4/8 threes, and went 4/4 at the free-throw line. 

The former UCLA Bruin also dished out eight assists and five of his seven rebounds created second-chance opportunities for the hosts.

At the other end of the floor, the now six-time All-Defensive team selection swiped three steals and often face-guarded Tyrese Haliburton, limiting him to eight points on eight shots in the final 24 minutes of regulation. The Pacers' star guard went 1/3 with six points and a turnover in overtime.

"Jrue was fantastic," voiced Jaylen Brown after the Celtics' 133-128 overtime win to start the Eastern Conference Finals. "Jrue was exceptional. And shout out to Jrue. 

"Jrue came out and balled, and he was the reason we won this game. And he just was poised; he took advantage of his matchups; he just was so elite. And that is a lot, and he's guarding Haliburton, picking him up, chasing him around, that was special from Jrue Holiday."

Holiday's head coach conveyed, "Jrue's the kind of guy, first of all, credit to him and D. White getting All-Defensive Team, but he's the kind of guy that's going to impact the game in different ways every night. Tonight, it was his scoring, his playmaking, and his defense. A well-rounded game by him. And I thought he -- just his poise and his demeanor throughout the game was instrumental for us."

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As for what the two-time All-Star thought of a performance that included him going from having eight points on six shots at halftime to erupting for 20 after intermission:

"Just continuing to be aggressive, continuing to work on my game, continuing to have my coaches and my teammates in my ear, telling me they're going to need me," said Holiday. "Even just knowing, especially (at) times during the game, just being aggressive, no matter what end of the floor it's on. Continuing to do that and see what happens."

Holiday's approach in Tuesday's series opener exemplified how he carried himself in the regular season, not allowing the lowest usage rate of his career (16.3%) to faze him as he quarterbacked Boston's defense and embraced assignments that included Joel Embiid and Julius Randle.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it called for him to quiet Haliburton, a challenge he met while showcasing what he's able to provide the Celtics offensively when called upon.

Further Reading

Jaylen Brown's Heroics Propel Celtics to 1-0 Lead in Conference Finals

Aaron Nesmith Left Lasting Impression with Celtics Before Finding a Home with Pacers

Trivializing Celtics' Success in Tatum-Brown Era a Take Not Measured Properly: 'Doing

Past Hardships Brought Out Best in Al Horford in Career Night: 'You Saw His Gift'

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Still Shaking Off Criticism While Growing as Leaders

Jayson Tatum Breaks Out of Scoring Slump That Never Defined Him: 'Underappreciated'

Derrick White Discusses Joining Elite Company in Game 1 Win vs. Cavaliers

Kristaps Porzingis Discusses Target Date to Rejoin Celtics' Playoff Run: 'Doing Everything I Can'

Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.