A marquee offseason move helped the Celtics get over the hump, but Boston couldn’t have pulled it off without an Eastern Conference foe getting the ball rolling.

The Bucks swung for the fences last summer when they paired Giannis Antetokounmpo with Damian Lillard. The cost was significant, as Milwaukee was forced to send Jrue Holiday to Portland as part of a hefty return package.

With a rebuild in full swing, the Trail Blazers sought out a trade partner for Holiday and landed on the Celtics, who were a perfect fit for the veteran guard. In a collaborative interview with ThreeFourTwo Productions and NBA 2K, Jayson Tatum was asked if he knew Boston was bound for a title once it acquired Holiday.

“At first I was like, ‘I can’t believe Milwaukee let this happen.’ So, thanks to the Bucks,” Tatum said. “But yeah, kinda. I knew we had a really good chance. To win a championship, a lot of things have to go right. You have to stay healthy, you have to be on the same page, you have to get along. A little bit of luck is involved. But knowing Jrue had championship DNA and I won a gold medal with him, I knew what kind of player and person he was. I knew it was going to make our team better. We already got KP (Kristaps Porzingis) and we already had a really good team. So, when we got Jrue, I was pretty confident about what we could accomplish.”

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The Celtics didn’t view Holiday as a rental either. Boston extended the two-time NBA champion before the start of the playoffs in a move that preceded new deals for Tatum and Derrick White. Those transactions and others cemented the C’s as title contenders — and perhaps favorites — for years to come.

And if/when Boston stands in the way of Milwaukee returning to the Finals the next few seasons, the Bucks will have themselves in part to blame.

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