Is Jrue Holiday the ‘missing piece’ for a Celtics championship? Paul Pierce thinks so.

"He’s a champion. He’s respected around the league. He’ll be respected here."

Paul Pierce photo by Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

After the Celtics lost in the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in seven years, the Celtics made some 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 of the offseason.

Celtics legend Paul Pierce, who attended practice for the second day in a row on Thursday, said he feels that Holiday could be just what the Celtics need to reach that next level.

“I think Jrue is a natural leader, a natural glue guy,” Pierce said. “He’s a champion. He’s respected around the league. He’ll 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 his family. I always think that’s important with new guys to just establish that comfortability amongst his teammates.


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

The Celtics’ ownership group feels similarly, Celtics governor Steve Pagliuca said during Holiday’s introductory press conference on Wednesday.

“As Brad [Stevens] said, we’ve really loved him since he was in New Orleans and we were watching him play. The directive was: Do anything you can to get him here because we could be a championship team.”

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

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

Expectations are high for the Celtics, but it is 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 new-look Celtics. “Seeing the guys together these first few days is bringing back a lot of memories about the first few days, the start of the journey.”


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