Celtics guard Jrue Holiday returned to his old stomping grounds Thursday night. As a core member of the Milwaukee Bucks 2020-2021 championship team, his homecoming was greeted with open arms and a tribute video, but quickly turned into a rude welcome back on the court.
Prior to the matchup, Holiday was business-like with his anticipated arrival in Milwaukee. While he was unable to forecast his emotions, the guard was very blunt about his expectations and current focus.
“We’re a good team," Holiday told NBC Boston Wednesday night. “We’ve beat them before. I’m very confident that we have a good chance to beat them again. So, I think to be able to go back to Milwaukee should be fun. Again, a place where I was there for three years, and we did great things there, but I’m on to better things.”
Holiday struggled greatly in his return, however brief it was. -31 on the court, he finished with six points, two assists, and four rebounds, on 2-9 (22 percent) from the field. Unable to get into any rhythm, the floor general missed several open shots beyond the perimeter.
Unable to get stops defensively, Mazzulla shifted to a zone often in the first half. Sticking Holiday on Giannis Antetokounmpo, #4 was often placed in the middle of a 2-1-2 zone. By placing him near the free throw line, he had the ability to switch on pick and rolls and redirect traffic.
This defensive scheme clearly wasn’t working, as the Bucks shot 50 percent from downtown in the first half.
Although Holiday didn’t have his best performance, he received a warm welcome from the Bucks organization and their fans. A heartfelt tribute video exhibited a combination of highlights and accolades he accomplished in three years as a Buck.
Forever a member of that championship roster, the Celtics guard expressed gratitude for his former team. He received plenty of cheers and a standing ovation from Bucks fans.
“It was awesome,” said Holiday. “My stint here, I had a great time, and it was really fun. I had some great memories, and shared some of those memories on the jumbotron. The fans here have always been great, been supportive of me and my family, and the team here. It was definitely a fun place to play.”
"The next game... coming out, locking in and taking care of business"— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 12, 2024
Jrue Holiday explains what the Celtics need to do to put the loss to the Bucks behind them pic.twitter.com/RgyRuuk8bU
Despite a terrible outcome for his new team, Holiday had no hard feelings after the Bucks 135-102 massacre over the Celtics.
“It was cool, it was cool to be back,” Holiday told the media. “It felt comfortable walking in, I just walked in a different way. Seeing familiar faces, saying hello to people that I’d seen for the last three years.:
Describing the matchup as a “reunion,” the C’s guard will forever hold a piece of Milwaukee in his heart.
“I just appreciate what the Bucks have done for me and my family,” Holiday told the press. “Everything that we’ve been through, the city of Milwaukee, what it means to me and my family. It was cool to come back, cool to have the video — I’m glad its over.”