Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks showed newly-minted Defensive Player of the Year winner Marcus Smart a thing or two about shutdown defense. Holiday snuffed the Boston Celtics guard’s indecisive layup late in the game before clinching the win with a midcourt steal against the reigning DPOY.
His dazzling defense on at least two of the most crucial possessions of the game earned him praise from the basketball world. Conversely, Smart was mercilessly ripped for his costly blunders. A fan on Twitter wrote:
“If Jrue Holiday was a yeller and screamer, and looked like he had bad hygiene, he’d win DPOY.”
The post was a dig at Marcus Smart’s looks and penchant for yelling that often gets the attention of the referees and the fans. It’s also a shot at whether Smart is undeserving of an award that supposedly should be Holiday’s to hold.
Here are some more reactions from the Bucks' 110-107 win against the Celtics involving Smart and Holiday:
To be fair to Marcus Smart, the Boston Celtics arguably would not have reached this point without his play on both ends of the floor, particularly on defense. His award is a season’s work of containing or harassing opponents.
Jrue Holiday, however, has been on a different level in the 2022 NBA postseason. He allows the lowest field-goal percentage in the playoffs despite consistently guarding the opposition’s best player.
Jrue Holiday as a help defender is mesmerizing to watch
Jrue Holiday snatched the ball out of Marcus Smart’s hands on two separate occasions as a help defender. He marked Jaylen Brown as the Celtics inbounded the ball with about 11 seconds remaining in the game.
Smart was trying to take advantage of Pat Connaughton who isn’t exactly the quickest and savviest defender on the Bucks’ roster. Boston’s point guard shook off the latter and was momentarily free for a layup before Holiday swatted the ball away.
For good measure, “JHolla” saved the ball from going out of bounds before hitting it on Smart to give the Bucks another crucial possession.
Three seconds later, Holiday was playing safety as the Bucks tried to trap Boston in the backcourt while bodying up on Brown. As Smart lunged across the halfcourt line, Holiday stripped him off for the walk-off win as he sauntered towards the Bucks’ bench.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, Holiday became the first player in the last 25 postseasons to record a block and a steal inside the last 10 seconds of a game.
Holiday has never won the NBA’s premier defensive player award, but he has been named three times to the NBA’s All-NBA defense. He showed just a few hours ago that when his team needs it the most, he’s right there with the best defensive players in the league.