akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BOSTON — Everyone connected to the green and white knew a storm would blow through TD Garden at the beginning of Sunday night’s game, and, sure enough, Hurricane Luka battered the parquet floor with steady gusts of three-pointers, drives to the basket, and trash talk to fans in the front row that almost always portends the worst to the locals. Jrue Holiday, whose comments about a couple of his star teammates created a little tempest a day prior, turned into the storm chaser Boston needed to withstand every run and give the Celtics a vice grip on the series.

The ubiquitous Holiday shone best during a decisive third-quarter run for the Celtics, who held off a couple of comeback efforts late to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 105-98 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals inside TD Garden on Sunday night. Showing off the scoring balance that’s been absent from their opponent, the Celtics saw Holiday go for 26 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, while Jaylen Brown had 21 points and Jayson Tatum was one rebound away from a triple-double.

Luka Doncic, who came into tonight listed as questionable with a thoracic contusion, scored 23 of his 32 points in the first half on his way to his seventh triple-double of the 2024 Playoffs. But, once again, Kyrie Irving had another off night from the field, and the trickle-down effect of that was another lackluster scoring output from the Mavericks role players.

While the Doncic storm broke up at sea in the second half, Holiday continued to make an impact on both end of the floor, with his offense making the difference during a 10-0 run late in the third quarter to extend the Celtics lead to 75-63. After the first four points of that run extended Boston’s lead six and forced Dallas to turn its first timeout of that stretch, Holiday finished off a nice pass from Brown with a running dunk. He then grabbed the rebound off a Josh Green missed three-pointer, which led to two Brown free throws. To polish off the run, Holiday scored on a layup from a feed by Tatum to open up the 12-point lead and compel the Mavericks to call another timeout.

In the third, Holiday made all three of his shots from the field, grabbed four rebounds (two offensive) and was on the floor for 11:57 out of a possible 12 minutes. Tatum and Brown played all 12 minutes of the quarter, and scored seven and eight points respectively as that trio almost singlehandedly gave Boston the cushion that it used to keep Dallas ultimately at bay.

“I’m a utility guy. I’ll do whatever. I’m here to win. I feel like they brought me here to win, and I’ll do my best to do that,” Holiday said. “But at the end of the day, this is [Jayson and Jaylen’s] team. I know it’s probably just as much my team as theirs, but again, I feel like I talked about this before, the pressure that they have on themselves to execute and to be great is a little bit different than my pressure. And, again, I’ve always been honest about that and how they always handle themselves has been something that’s been so honorable.”

All was calm along the Charles River after Boston’s Game 1 victory until Saturday afternoon, when Holiday chimed in on the story making waves about the perception many have of the relationship between the Celtics two stars by saying he believed “JB (Brown) is the better player.” While all parties involved appeared to comport themselves on and off the court that all of the noise surrounding the comment was water under the bridge, Holiday still felt compelled to address the that dust storm before the first question was asked in his postgame press conference.

“I feel like people kind of took that out of context,” Holiday said. “I’ve been hearing that I prefer JB over JT and that’s not what that was. I like to praise my teammates. I like to praise my teammates when they’re playing well, and I feel like that’s what I did my best to do.”

Holiday added that Tatum was the first person to reach out and text Holiday before he came into the arena today to, essentially, affirm the bond that they have.

“But to compare them is something that I would never do because they’re two completely different players as well as being on the same team, and the things that they have done in this organization and the things that they have done against me as an opponent. How they play together and how they work together is something that is sacred and something that can’t be broken. So just to address the comment yesterday, I do not prefer one or the other. I prefer both. Both of them are superstars, and it’s being shown out here on the biggest stage in the world.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday evening’s Game 2, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Erica Denhoff. After clicking on a photo to enlarge the picture, press the left and right arrow buttons on either side of the caption to scroll through the rest of the pictures that appear on the first page. Also, click on the numbers and/or arrow appearing immediately below the picture grid to load the next set of photos. There are 81 pictures in total.

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Tags : Boston CelticsDallas MavericksJrue HolidayNational Basketball AssociationNBANBA Finals

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