Boston Celtics trade splashes looked pitch perfect in the preseason

Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
Jrue Holiday, Boston Celtics. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports /

For Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, looking pitch-perfect for the Boston Celtics is more than just about looking “good.” They had to look like getting them was a no-brainer. Like so good that they would make the team wonder where they have been all this time. So good that the fanbase would even forget the names of Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, and Grant Williams while they played.

And you know what? They did it.

Even if they haven’t played one solitary second in the regular season as Celtics yet, they’ve given every indication that a great season is on the horizon. Porzingis more than Holiday on that front, but Holiday wasn’t brought in as the Celtics’ vaunted third scoring option. More on that later.

As far as preliminary data goes, the returns on these two have been beautiful to start, but why have they elicited such optimism despite nothing counting?

How Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday have stirred up excitement for Boston Celtics

Let’s cut right to the chase. These two have excited fans more about the season because they look exactly like what the Celtics had envisioned upon first acquiring them, to the point where the league looks like they messed up. Let’s start with the main course, Porzingis.

What can be said about Porzingis that hasn’t already been said? The guy took no time to show exactly why the Celtics were willing to do whatever it took to get him, even if it meant trading away the beloved Marcus Smart.

The hype train has only grown since his preseason debut with the Celtics, having performed similarly against the Knicks.

Even in games where Porzingis’ three-ball wasn’t falling, he still managed to wow the Celtics by getting and-1s in the post.

The Jays have had their fair share of offensively talented personnel playing right next to them since first teaming up in 2017: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and Gordon Hayward, just to name a few. Yet somehow, Porzingis truly brings a whole new dynamic. At seven-foot-three,  He may not be quite as springy as he once was during his Knicks days – and if he were, no way in hell the Celtics would have gotten their hands on him – but what he’s lost in athleticism, he’s more than made up for it in offensive finesse.

In only three games, Porzingis has looked the part of someone who the Jays have been missing their entire careers. Sure, people will forget how Porzingis looked in three exhibitions when the games start counting for something next week, but it’s been a long time since a new Celtic left this good impression so quickly. An impression so good that the last time a new Celtic looked as exciting as Porzingis was… Kevin Garnett?

And then, there’s Holiday. Now it’s true that Holiday hasn’t necessarily exploded onto the scene in Boston like Porzingis has, but part of that can be that the Celtics aren’t asking him to. They’ll ask him to do the little things that don’t appear on the box score. So far, he’s shown just that.

We could talk about his defense, but anyone familiar with Holiday knows how good he is there and how well he should blend with the rest of the Celtics. Whether they start together or not, Holiday and Derrick White have shown that together, the Celtics’ opponents will have to get past a defensive wall between them.

Holiday hasn’t stood out like Porzingis partially because he’s not the freak of nature the Latvian is. Still, he has shown his ability to score, which is sure to come in handy when considering how much attention Tatum, Brown, and Porzingis will all get playing beside him.

Back in 2018, Matt Moore called Holiday “the Al Horford of point guards.” If you enjoyed the Al Horford era – and you absolutely should have – then you’ll enjoy the Jrue Holiday era. One last thing. Does Holiday’s tendency to sometimes jack up an ill-advised three with a hand in his face remind you of anyone? (0:35 mark)

At some point, the honeymoon phase will end. If the Boston Celtics continue to succeed, those two will be heavily under the microscope. Even if the pressure on Porzingis and Holiday isn’t nearly the same as the pressure once bestowed on Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward in 2017, these two come into the season viewed as the last two pieces of the championship puzzle the Celtics have tried to solve for years now. It’s way too early to make any judgments, but thus far, this could not have started out better for those two.

Unfortunately, the last time the C’s ceiling looked this promising, Gordon Hayward suffered a catastrophic leg injury five minutes into the season. The Boston Celtics will enter the season knowing Deja vu could happen at any moment. Whether that happens or not, Boston swung for the fences this summer. Whether they accomplish their goals or not, Porzingis and Holiday have at least shown that it was worth the risk.