Jrue Holiday Gave Great Quote on Celtics' Defensive Effort Against Luka Dončić

The Mavericks superstar recorded 30 points but managed only one assist in Game 1.
Jun 6, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) and center Al Horford (42) and guard Jrue Holiday (4)
Jun 6, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) and center Al Horford (42) and guard Jrue Holiday (4) / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics came out hot in Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals, beating down the Dallas Mavericks, 107-89, to take an early lead in the championship series. The most impressive aspect of the win was the Celtics putting together a dominant team effort that stifled everything the Mavs tried to do— especially in the case of Luka Doncic.

The Dallas superstar scored 30 points and recorded 10 rebounds, but shot 46% from the floor and managed only one assist on the night, a career low in postseason play. He scored a lot of points and dragged the Mavericks back within eight on the scoreboard after falling down by as many as 29, but was unable to dictate the flow of the game as we've seen him so often do.

It was basically as good a job you'll see defending Doncic this postseason. Jrue Holiday was asked how the Celtics pulled it off after the win and gave a great quote about the effort everybody in the rotation gives on that side of the ball.

"I think it helps a lot," Holiday said when asked how much it helps the Celtics to have several different defenders to guard Doncic. "Throwing different guys at him. Different guys that play defense differently. Some aggressive, some not. I think even our white guys guard. Hopefully it's a challenge on him and hopefully we can continue to do that."

Holiday certainly has a healthy respect for his opponent. He made waves in the lead-up to Game 1 for bluntly stating that the best defensive strategy against Doncic and his backcourt mate Kyrie Irving was simply to pray they miss shots.

Whether or not that worked, the Celtics did indeed make life very difficult for Doncic thanks to a rotation loaded with excellent defenders. Holiday and Derrick White both made All-Defense this season. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been seen as elite defenders for years now. Al Horford isn't the monster he once was on that end but is very well-suited to guarding Doncic with his size and had a great game defensively on Thursday.

Doncic knows these guys are tough to score on and tried to target Sam Hauser or Payton Pritchard when they were on the court. But they compete hard and didn't let Doncic get anything easy in Game 1. Hauser even stole the ball from the perennial MVP candidate in an isolation situation. Everybody in Boston's rotation is going to defend hard, no matter what.

Defense wins championships, as the famous saying goes, and Thursday night suggested the Celtics are taking that to heart.


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Liam McKeone

LIAM MCKEONE

Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.