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Paul Pierce says Jrue Holiday is a ‘missing piece’ for Celtics title


Celtics

“He’s a champion. He’s respected throughout the league. He’ll be respected here.”

Paul Pierce photo by Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

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After the Celtics lost in the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in seven years, the Celtics made significant moves aimed at putting them over the top in their quest for Banner No. 18.

Marcus Smart, Rob Williams, Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams are among the players who have left.

Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday are Boston’s two biggest acquisitions this offseason.

Celtics legend Paul Pierce, who attended practice for the second straight day Thursday, said he thinks Holiday could be exactly what the Celtics need to reach the next level.

“I think Jrue is a natural leader, a natural glue guy,” Pierce said. “He’s a champion. He is respected in the league. He will be respected here. It’s up to the guys around him to welcome him with open arms and make him feel comfortable not only as a player but also as a family. I always think it’s important with new players to just establish that comfort among your teammates.

“But, as far as he was in shape, I feel like he was the missing piece,” Pierce said.

The Celtics ownership group feels the same way, Celtics Governor Steve Pagliuca said during Holiday’s introductory news conference Wednesday.

“Like Brad (Stevens) said, we really like him since he was in New Orleans and we watched him play. The directive was: do everything you can to get him here because we could be a championship team.

Holiday, 33, won a title with the Bucks in 2021. He is a two-time All-Star and three-time All-Defensive First Team. Pairing him with Derrick White in the backcourt, with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on the wings and Kristaps Porzingis down low, gives the Celtics a formidable starting five.

Holiday said he chose the Celtics because coming to Boston gave him the best chance to win another title.

Expectations are high for the Celtics, but it’s still very early. This group’s journey is just beginning to unfold. But it is clear that the desired destination is the NBA Finals.

“It’s been fun, it’s been intense, it’s been a joy to watch,” Pierce said of the Celtics’ new look. “Seeing the guys together these first few days, it brings back a lot of memories of the first days, of the beginning of the journey.”

Boston

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