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USA Today via Reuters

USA Today via Reuters

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  Debate

Debate

Did the Bucks just hand the Celtics a golden ticket with the Jrue Holiday trade?

When Kristaps Porzingis joined the Boston Celtics, the NBA crowd knew of their intentions. The front office looked to organize a team with the singular objective of ending their title drought. They already had a breathtaking team. But then the Milwaukee Bucks left Jrue Holiday who somehow landed in Boston. It was difficult to fault any Celtics lineup after he came. It convinced not just the NBA world, but even Jayson Tatum that nobody can stop the Boston Celtics from winning the championship.

Holiday was an instrumental part of the Bucks’ championship triumph in 2021. He is a defensive stalwart who regularly makes winning plays on either end of the floor. Boston was a remarkable defensive team even without Holiday. But once he arrived, it changed the entire complexion of their roster. All of a sudden, they had every base covered. Watching it all in motion, Joel Embiid wondered whether the Bucks simply handed a title to Boston by giving up Holiday. That was exactly how Jayson Tatum felt when he heard the news.

“At first I was like ‘I can’t believe Milwaukee let this happen’. So thanks to the Bucks. But yeah kind of. I knew we had a really good chance,” Tatum said on Old Man and The Three. But even with a loaded roster, Tatum admitted the importance of fate and health. But he had seen Holiday’s impactful presence when they won a gold medal together. That alone was satisfactory for the 26-year-old to feel supremely confident about their chances.

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“Knowing that Jrue had championship DNA and I won a gold medal with him. I knew what kind of player and person he was. I knew he was going to make our team better. And we already got KP. And we already had a really good team. So yeah, when we go Jrue I was pretty confident about what we could accomplish,” 

Poll of the day

Do you think the Milwaukee Bucks made a mistake by trading away Jrue Holiday?

Yes, absolutely

No, it was a smart move

Only time will tell

USA Today via Reuters

Holiday and Derrick White found instant synergy. As a tandem, they became one of the most tenacious defensive matchups for any frontcourt. The veteran guard also accentuated their three-point prowess. Notably, of the Boston lineups to play at least 60 minutes, Holiday features in two of the three lineups that shot 40% or more from three.

However, Holiday was most influential during the NBA Finals. He was matched with Kyrie Irving, a cerebral and excellent scorer who had just demolished the Timberwolves, a stellar defensive unit. But under Holiday’s watch, he suffocated. Over the five games, Irving just scored 32 points when guarded by the 34-year-old. His playmaking too was depleted, only contributing three assists.

The diminished offense left a hobbled Luka Doncic to take the lion’s share of the workload. The Slovenian had a sensational Finals, but his iron will was never sufficient to beat the Celtics. They broke through a 16-year drought to win a championship. While it was a long process, the catalyst of it all was when Milwaukee allowed Holiday to join their greatest rivals.

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Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday are already looking forward to the next one

It might have just been weeks since Holiday and Tatum lifted the NBA title together, but their duties aren’t fulfilled yet. The Boston duo recently joined the Team USA camp that will compete at the Paris Olympics 2024. The conversation grew competitive as Holiday remembers it when the players began talking about their NBA alliances.

As far as the All-NBA second team member’s motivation goes, Jrue Holiday has started thinking about the back-to-back already. “It’s been a good year for the Celtics. I think just where we started and for myself, how I started, and being the last one getting there in training camp and us going through and battling and winning the championship and bringing everyone back, it’s amazing,” he told boston.com.

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Jayson Tatum received a record-setting five-year $315 million extension from the Celtics. The front office even re-signed Derrick White, retaining their lethal backcourt tandem for the coming season. As it stands, Boston will pay a hefty luxury tax, probably the biggest in NBA history. At the same time, their title aspirations remain intact. Even with major roster shake-ups, there are no grave threats to Boston just yet.

The Knicks and Sixers seem to have a chance. But the Celtics not only have the blueprint to win, but a feral ambition to hold their status as the indomitable team of the NBA. Do you think the same roster can win a back-to-back championship next season? Let us know your views in the comments below.