The offensive prowess of the new-look Celtics was on full display in their 155-104 win over the Pacers on Wednesday. But there’s one thing that stood out most to Celtics icons Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett during the team’s 4-0 start.
Both Hall of Famers have been impressed with the defensive play of the Celtics’ backcourt, led by Derrick White and Jrue Holiday. In the latest edition of “KG Certified,” Garnett was curious to see how the duo looked personally defensively after Pierce attended the team’s win over the Heat in their home opener.
There was one quality that Pierce noticed about White and Holiday was that the Celtics’ guards “never stop playing basketball.”
“When they’re on the court, they play every possession,” Pierce explained. “They go for offensive rebounds, they play defense, they cut, they set screens and they go for steals. They never stop playing the game. For example, your star can go here and wait for the ball or not go for the offensive rebounds. They play every part of the game you can play.”
When Garnett said the White and Holiday playoff “looks messy on TV,” Pierce didn’t disagree and explained in more detail what the guard duo does so well.
“It looks really nasty in person,” Pierce said. “It’s like, damn, next thing you know, Holiday comes up with an offensive rebound or White comes up with a big offensive rebound, or (one of them) hits a big 3 or comes up with a big stop at the end. It looked crazy.”
In the game Pierce attended, both White and Holiday made several key plays to help the Celtics pull away with a 119-111 win over the Heat. White scored 14 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, while Holiday recorded a pair of defensive rebounds and assists in the final minutes.
Both players also followed up their All-Defensive team selections from last season, with strong play on that end of the court through the first four games. White has five steals and five blocks with a defensive rating of 100.4 so far this season. Holiday has just one steal through the first four games, but has seven blocks and a 103 defensive rating so far this year.
That prompted Pierce to make a pretty big proclamation about White and Holiday as he compared them to another duo.
“This might be the best defensive duo,” Pierce said. ‘Do you know who it reminds me of? It’s reminiscent of when it was (Rajon) Rondo and Jrue Holiday, when they were in New Orleans and they played in Portland and they were D’ing (Damian Lillard) and (CJ) McCollum. This is what it looked like.
“I looked at the Celtics, they took over the entire court. They had Payton Pritchard picked up. They can be scary good because if everyone buys into that side of the ball, it changes everything in the culture. It seems like they’re really digging into that team, and that’s what really brings your team together: the defense.”
Pierce and Garnett compared White and Holiday’s defensive intensity on this Celtics team to the defensive intensity they had together during their six seasons with the Celtics, when they consistently had one of the league’s best defenses.
Garnett shared some concern that this Celtics group may be flying a little too under the radar.
‘You know what I’m worried about? You know what I also like about the C’s: they’re in the story, but they’re not like – you don’t hear them.
Pierce agreed, but he also thinks the Celtics can reach another level.
“I think they have another button,” Pierce said. “I think they can push that button.”
The Celtics won’t have half of their starting backcourt when they take on the Nets on Saturday. White will miss Saturday’s match due to a personal reason.
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