After their loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the Celtics decided to change their roster a bit for 2023-24. A number of their key rotation players were traded or signed elsewhere. The two biggest pieces acquired this offseason for the Celtics were Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday.
Boston was already an incredible team defensively last season, but they may have gotten better with their new additions. In the Celtics’ first game of the season last night, Jrue Holiday was outstanding defensively. He made the Knicks work for their points when they tried to play him 1-vs-1. There’s only room for Holiday and the Celtics to continue to build chemistry on the defensive end.
Jrue Holiday played 35 minutes in his debut for the Boston Celtics
Jrue Holiday’s defense last night:
Julius Randle: 1/10 FG
Jalen Brunson: 0/4 FG
RJ Barrett: 1/4 FG
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) October 26, 2023
When the Celtics traded away Marcus Smart this offseason, a void was left on the team that would not be easy to fill. He was a former DPOY and was arguably the heart and soul of their team. However, Smart was traded to the Grizzlies in a three-team deal when the Celtics acquired Kristaps Porzingis. The Celtics acted quickly when Jrue Holiday was traded to the Blazers.
Boston sent over Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams, and a package of picks to acquire Jrue Holiday. In his Celtics debut, the five-time all-defensive selection played lockdown defense. Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and R.J. Barrett shot a combined 2/18 when being guarded by Holiday. Additionally, the 33-year-old had three blocks in the Celtics’ first game vs. New York.
Celtics dispatched Jrue Holiday as primary defender on Julius Randle in last night’s opener.
Randle when Holiday was the primary defender, per NBA tracking data:
Knicks were 4-23 FG with Holiday as defender. (10-48 FG vs Holiday and Porzingis) pic.twitter.com/nhSN2Jx6Lg
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) October 26, 2023
Jrue Holiday’s impact on defense doesn’t translate in the box score. He does the little things and always gives 100 percent when he’s on the court. Along with Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis, the Celtics are in line to have another top-ranked defense in 2023-24. His scoring might drop from his (19.3) points per game last season. However, his defensive efforts are a big part of the reason why he was brought here. Boston will have their first home game of the season this Friday vs. the Heat.