Justin Holiday 2021 Season Review

Veteran swingman Justin Holiday discusses playing in every game once again, missing playing in front of the fans, and mentoring younger players.

J Holiday 2021 Player Review

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Justin Holiday 2021 Season Review

Veteran swingman Justin Holiday discusses playing in every game once again, missing playing in front of the fans, and mentoring younger players.
Jun 8, 2021  |  03:49

Justin Holiday 2020-21 Season Highlights

Check out some of the top plays from Justin Holiday's 2020-21 season.
Jun 8, 2021  |  00:58

2021 Exit Interview: Justin Holiday

May 22, 2021 - Justin Holiday discusses where he wants to see the Pacers improve next season and his personal goals for the offseason.
May 22, 2021  |  01:49

Justin Holiday and JaKarr Sampson Attend Indy 500

May 30, 2021 - Pacers players Justin Holiday and JaKarr Sampson attended the 2021 Indianapolis 500, getting an up-close look at "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
May 30, 2021  |  01:37

Player Review 2021: Justin Holiday

by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Age: 32
Years Pro: 8
Status: Entering second year of a three-year contract.
Key Stats: The only Pacer to play in every game for the second consecutive season. Started 52 of 72 contests, averaging 10.5 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 38.2 percent from 3-point range.

With Justin Holiday, Pacers fans know what they're getting. The veteran swingman is going to be on the court every night, giving it his all at both ends.

Easily the most admirable of Holiday's attributes is his durability. While the Pacers have been besieged by injuries big and small in recent seasons, the eldest Holiday brother has yet to miss a game over his two seasons in Indiana. In fact, he is just one of two players in the NBA that has appeared in every game over the past three seasons (the other is Phoenix's Mikal Bridges).

Holiday had plenty of success in a bench role in 2019-20, only starting six of 73 regular-season games. But T.J. Warren's season-ending injury forced Holiday into a de facto starting role in 2020-21. Holiday started 52 of 72 contests in an expanded role this season.

PHOTO GALLERY: Justin Holiday's 2020-21 Season in Photos »

Playing alongside the likes of Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and Caris LeVert, Holiday was less of a primary scoring option as a starter, but he still managed to increase his scoring average from 8.3 to 10.5 points per game, thanks in part to a 5.3 minutes per game increase.

Head coach Nate Bjorkgren deployed Holiday like a Swiss Army knife, using him in several different positions depending on who was on the floor with him. While Holiday played primarily on the wing, he was also deployed at power forward in small-ball lineups with the second unit and even occasionally as a starter when one or both of Sabonis or Myles Turner was sidelined. Holiday started 29 games at small forward, 17 at shooting guard, and six at power forward.

Defensively, Holiday was usually tasked with guarding one of the opponent's top scorers, sometimes trying to keep up with quick guards on the perimeter and at other times banging with bigger players in the post. Regardless of his assignment, Holiday tackled each challenge without complaint.

After establishing himself as an elite 3-point shooter in 2019-20, when he shot a career-best 40.5 percent from beyond the arc, Holiday's 3-point percentage dipped slightly this season, but he still posted a .382 clip from beyond the arc. That made it the second-best 3-point percentage in Holiday's eight-year career, a testament to his overall improvement as an outside shooter during his time in the NBA.

Justin Holiday, Kevin Durant

Photo Credit: Matt Kryger

That said, Holiday's shooting went through a number of peaks and valleys throughout the season. At times he couldn't miss, but over other stretches he endured significant slumps. His month-by-month 3-point percentage splits highlight those inconsistencies.

Holiday started the season 4-for-18 from beyond the arc (22.2 percent) over five games in December, but bounced back to shoot 43 percent in January and 44.7 percent in February. His percentages dipped considerably in March (33.9 percent) and even more in April (30.4 percent), only for him to shoot a lights-out 47.4 percent in May.

His streaky shooting obviously impacted his scoring as well. Though he reached double figures in half of Indiana's games, he did so just three times in 16 games in April and four times in a 22-game span from March 31 to May 8.

Holiday closed the season strong, however, reaching double figures in five of Indiana's last seven contests, including the Play-In Tournament. One of the highlights of his season came when playing against his brother Jrue and Milwaukee on May 13. Justin Holiday caught fire early in that contest, making six 3-pointers in the first quarter and finishing with a season-high 26 points, five rebounds, and five assists, while going 8-for-12 from 3-point range.

Off the court, Holiday is one of the unquestioned leaders of the team. The oldest player on the team and a player who had to play his way into the league after originally going undrafted, Holiday has been a mentor to younger players like his brother Aaron, Edmond Sumner, and Goga Bitadze, as well as a calming voice in the locker room and in interviews when the team faced adversity.

The offseason has typically been a time of uncertainty for a journeyman like Holiday, but he finally received some stability after signing a three-year deal with the Pacers in November. Though he may slide back into a reserve role if the Pacers are fully healthy, Holiday figures to be an important part of the rotation next season.

Although he has earned a reputation as Indiana's "Iron Man," that moniker has been earned through a focused offseason regimen designed on maintaining his health, something Holiday said is once again a priority for him this offseason.

"I still want to make sure I can find ways to keep my body young," he told the media in exit interviews. "...I want to become actually a lot more mobile, a little more flexible. I think that helps a lot."

Holiday carries a streak of 227 consecutive games played into the 2021-22 season. It wouldn't be a shock to see him add another 82 onto that number next season.

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