Tyrese Haliburton calls Jrue Holiday the NBA’s ‘best defender’ after Game 1 loss

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Even though it was Jaylen Brown who was clutch and saved Boston by sending the contest into overtime, both him and his rivals agree that Jrue Holiday was the best player of the match. The Celtics eventually won Game 1 over the Pacers after 65 minutes of play, in a 133-128 victory.

According to Tyrese Haliburton, it was the former Bucks star’s defense that made his team fall to defeat this Tuesday evening. “He’s the best defender in the NBA. He has been for a long time,” the Indiana guard said. “It’s unfortunate. It’s frustrating for sure. But it happens. We make mistakes, we’re human. I learned from it and I’ll be better in Game 2.”

However, Holiday was essential on both sides of the floor, as he also produced his best offensive performance in a Boston jersey. The veteran dropped in a season-high 28 points last night, trailing only behind Jayson Tatum’s 36.

This was the first time since December that the guard hit at least 13 points in four straight matches. It seems as if Jrue was inspired after being named second-team All-Defense only hours prior to the Eastern Conference Final.

Even Brown, who scored the game-tying shot beyond the arc to force overtime, explained why his teammate deserved all the credit. Holiday also contributed with 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals throughout the contest.

“Jrue was fantastic. Jrue was exceptional,” he expressed postgame. “Shoutout to Jrue. Jrue came out and balled, man. He’s the reason we won this game. I think he just was poised. He took advantage of his matchups. He just was so elite. And he’s guarding Haliburton, picking him up, chasing him around. That was special from Jrue Holiday.”

On the other hand, the 33-year-old revealed that he always believed his team would win. “I think we always knew we could (win),” Holiday assured. “Close games I don’t think have ever bothered us. I think we’ve always stayed poised no matter if it’s a win or a loss.”

Tatum believes that the Celtics won because of the maturity they’ve accumulated over the past three campaigns

There was a point during the game that most any NBA team would’ve fallen into desperation and lost their nerves. Nevertheless, Jayson Tatum is convinced that his squad has been through so much in the past three seasons that they’ve earned the maturity to keep their cool even when the game isn’t on their side. 

“That s— was chaos; that s— was wild,” the forward said about his team’s resilience throughout Game 1. “But just stay present, stay in the moment. As long as there’s time still on the clock and the game is within reach, we feel like we have a chance.”

“This core group has been in so many big-time games, big-time moments. We’ve had a lead and lost it and still won. We’ve been down a lot and figured out a way to win,” he added as the series is now 1-0.

Holiday also expressed a similar sentiment to that of his teammate, convinced that inexperience took a toll on the Pacers into a playoff-high 21 turnovers. “We’d always give ourselves a chance again today. But, down 3, with some seconds left, making a big shot, and making big plays after that, we knew we had it in us,” he shared.