Tyrese Haliburton pointed to the obvious when asked about Jrue Holiday after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. "He's the best defender in the NBA," the All-Star guard declared. "He has been for a long time." Haliburton wasn't far off.

Holiday was named to his sixth All-Defensive team on Tuesday. Among active guards, only Chris Paul has been chosen to more. Holiday was the primary matchup on Haliburton in Game 1, and while Indiana's floor general largely played well, Holiday came away with three huge steals. With the Pacers trailing by one with just over one minute remaining in overtime, Holiday's forced turnover allowed Jayson Tatum to push the lead to four on a 3-pointer and effectively seal the win. Even now, with his 34th birthday mere weeks away, Holiday remains one of the NBA's very best defenders.

But the Celtics have plenty of great defenders, and others like Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III are no longer part of this team because defense has never really been the issue in the postseason. Where things tend to go haywire is on the offensive end. At their worst, the Celtics devolve into an offense that mindlessly jacks up 3-pointers and turns the ball over because they cannot generate easier shots. This is where Holiday came in so handy against the Pacers in Game 1. While his 4-of-8 3-point shooting was obviously critical, it was his ability to create points near the rim against weaker defenders that saved the Celtics on Tuesday.

The word "weaker" is literal here. Holiday was just too big and too strong for most of Indiana's perimeter players. Just look at how easily he seals for position against Haliburton before the ball even arrives.

The next time Haliburton is confronted with Holiday in the post, he has no choice but to foul.

Ben Sheppard wasn't any better.

T.J. McConnell is quite good defensively against most guards, but he's practically invisible to Holiday at his size.

This has been a problem for the Pacers for some time now. Last season, Holiday scored 51 points in a March game against Indiana because Andrew Nembhard was just as helpless against him.

These are instances in which Holiday's defenders largely did the best they could despite the mismatch. It doesn't help that Indiana's defenders aren't the most disciplined in the league. Watch Holiday patiently wait for Haliburton's eyes to wander before cutting into two easy points.

This is the other component of Holiday's offensive value in this series. His basketball IQ is so high and he so consistently finds himself in the right places that if Indiana's defense deviates from the scheme or breaks down in any way for even a moment, he's going to turn it into offense.

Does Indiana have potential solutions for Holiday's offense? Sure. The problem is that they are otherwise occupied. Aaron Nesmith is Indiana's best perimeter defender. He was busy guarding Jayson Tatum in Game 1. Pascal Siakam was needed for Jaylen Brown. You can always send help, but the Celtics were the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA this season and one of the best of all time. Do you really want to give Derrick White or Al Horford open looks?

This is the problem Boston poses almost every team in the league. Most lineups have a poor defender. Some have two. Indiana has several. There are a number of creative ways of hiding that. The Knicks switch-hunted Haliburton plenty in the second round. By the end of the series, Indiana had gotten comfortably having him hedge and recover off of Jalen Brunson whenever New York tried that. It's not a perfect solution, but there are ways to mitigate defensive weaknesses most of the time. Most teams have a bad offensive player on the floor at all times.

But Boston? Even with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined, there's just no hiding spot. Tatum and Brown were just All-Stars. White nearly was as well. Holiday isn't that caliber of offensive player anymore. He's not going to score 28 most nights, and the Bucks struggled in the playoffs offensively when they needed Holiday to serve as a primary creator.

The Celtics never need Holiday to be a primary creator. They are so good and so deep with top-end talent that he can afford to pick his spots. The Pacers happen to present a matchup that plays to his literal and figurative strength. He can bully these smaller perimeter defenders, and Indiana's better ones are so busy with their own assignments that Rick Carlisle just doesn't really have an obvious schematic fix. Even if Holiday's offense won't earn him the sort of "best in the league" praise that Haliburton gave his defense, it is still so far beyond what a normal team's worst offensive perimeter player is capable of that offense-centric opponents like Indiana just won't ever have the man-power to counter. Holiday is too strong for the Pacers, and there's nothing they can really do about it.

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