Boston Celtics

Jrue Holiday has blunt reaction to being in Finals MVP conversation

The veteran guard has his eyes on a different prize.

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On a team led by a pair of in-their-prime superstars, 34-year-old Jrue Holiday is making a legitimate case for 2024 NBA Finals MVP.

Holiday has been instrumental in the Boston Celtics taking a 2-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks. He has 38 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists and zero turnovers through two games and is the first player since Michael Jordan in 1998 to record at least 38 points and zero turnovers combined in Games 1 and 2 of an NBA Finals.

With Jayson Tatum mired in a shooting slump in Game 2, Holiday stepped up with a team-high 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting, becoming the first player in NBA Finals history to tally at least 25 points and 10 rebounds on 75 percent or better shooting with zero turnovers while leading Boston to a 105-98 win.

Holiday began the series as a long shot to win Finals MVP at +5000 but now has +750 odds to win the Bill Russell Trophy, per Fanatics Sportsbook, behind only Tatum (+125), Jaylen Brown (+600) and Mavs star Luka Doncic (+650).

What would it mean for the 15-year veteran to win Finals MVP at this stage of his career? Not much, apparently.

"I don't. That does not matter to me," Holiday told NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin in a 1-on-1 interview Tuesday when asked if he's thought about winning Finals MVP.

"It's not something that I think about. Winning is what matters, and however you get it done is what matters. And I feel like as a team, collectively, I think we've done a great job of doing it."

Holiday's team-first approach is a big reason why the Celtics are 78-20 combined in the regular season and playoffs. The two-time All-Star willingly took a smaller offensive role this season -- he averaged 10.0 shots per game, his lowest output since his rookie year -- and embraced being a facilitator and a defensive stopper. So, it's no surprise that he isn't concerned with individual awards, even one as prestigious as Finals MVP.

"It takes what it takes," Holiday added. "I feel like that's kind of been our mindset whole series is, it takes what it takes. So it doesn't matter if I'm dog tired or if I'm fresh, I'm going to do what needs to be done to try to win the game."

Holiday has done that and then some through two games; in addition to his offensive contributions, he's been a menace defensively while helping limit Kyrie Irving to just 26 total points on 35.1 percent shooting.

The Celtics likely will get the Mavs' best shot in Game 3 as the series shifts to Dallas, and Kristaps Porzingis' uncertain status due to a "rare" leg injury may give the Mavs more confidence. The C's have yet to lose on the road this postseason, though, and Holiday believes they'll be ready for the challenge Wednesday night.

"It's us against them," Holiday added. "It's like, we win or we die, and that's the mentality that we have to have. It's either we win, or both of us die.

"That's the joke saying by the way, but I think for the most part, us being able to have this type of intensity coming into an away team's arena going out there and trying to get a win is something that we kind of live for as basketball players."

Check out Holiday's full interview with Abby Chin in the video player above, or on YouTube below.

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