Jrue Holiday is an elite two-way player. He proved that in the 2021 NBA Finals, where his perimeter defense and penchant for performing in big moments helped the Milwaukee Bucks win their first ring.

This season, he found himself traded away from Milwaukee for Damian Lillard. It was pretty clear that he wouldn’t stay on with the Portland Trail Blazers, because the Blazers were on a rebuilding trail, but it was quite the shock when the Boston Celtics landed him. Holiday was a clear upgrade over Malcolm Brogdon, and his addition to the Celtics all-but guaranteed their domination of the Eastern Conference.

Holiday once again showed his championship pedigree in Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Finals, where his 26 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block on 11 of 14 shooting played a key role in the 105-98 victory. His defense is always reliable, but it’s the times where he finds his offense that really helps him turn a game.

It seems fitting, almost, that the Bucks giving up on their championship-winning guard gave him the opportunity to make it back to the NBA Finals. Holiday is the exact type of presence that the Celtics were missing in 2022. No disrespect to Marcus Smart, but Holiday has always been the superior defender and far more consistent offensive option.

Having someone like Holiday on an already-loaded roster is categorically unfair. Even as Jayson Tatum once again struggled from the field with a 6 of 22 performance on the way to 18 points and 12 rebounds, Holiday proved to be the one to pick up the slack. In Game 1, it was Kristaps Porzingis, and this time it was Holiday. 

Holiday also has the right mentality, since he doesn’t consider himself a star. Having someone willing to do what it takes is huge for a contender, especially if it’s a player who’s as unflappable as Holiday.

Jaylen Brown maintained his consistent form and after finishing with 22 points on 7 of 12 shooting in Game 1, Brown had 21 points while making 8 of 15 attempts in Game 2. With at least one of their two stars being consistent, it’s now looking like the Celtics are destined to win this title. I really hoped that the Mavericks would be able to give them more trouble, but the depth advantage is clearly skewed toward the Celtics. Boston are now 6-0 in these playoffs when Jayson Tatum shoots below 40% from the field, which is an insane statistic.

I still don’t think the Mavericks are going to get swept, but they do look quite outmatched in talent. Doncic is still the best player in the series, but unlike 2022, the Celtics are now back with more contributors that can cover for a lackluster game from on of their stars.