Thrust into a starting role in Game 4 of the Celtics‘ series vs. Milwaukee after Robert Williams went down with another knee injury, Grant Williams scored just 11 total points on 3-of-15 shooting in his first three starts. However, the team’s faith in him was rewarded on Sunday when he remained in the starting lineup for a fourth straight game even with Robert Williams reactivated.
Grant Williams made the Bucks pay for focusing their defensive attention on other Celtics players, launching 18 attempts from beyond the arc and making seven of them. Those seven 3-pointers were a career high, as were his 27 points, while his 39:20 of game time was a personal playoff best. A plus-25 in the Celtics’ series-clinching victory, Williams said after the game that his teammates were encouraging him not to hesitate when he had open looks.
“(Jaylen Brown freaked out) on me for not shooting. ‘Shoot it, shoot the first one. We know that’s a shot you can make and we won’t get mad at you for shooting it,'” Williams told Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “So they were just like, ‘Shoot it, we’re sick of you passing it up.’ I was like, ‘All right, cool.’ They gave me permission, so I tried letting them fly.”
Williams has been a rotation player in Boston all season long, but his emergence as a starter and a key cog who can play defense and hit open shots is coming at exactly the right time — the 23-year-old will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
Here’s more on the Celtics, who are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in the last six years:
- Jaylen Brown earned another contract bonus on Sunday when the team reached the Eastern Conference Finals, pocketing an extra $321,429, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. According to Marks, that bonus would be voided if Boston makes the NBA Finals and would be replaced by a new bonus worth about three times as much ($964,286).
- The Celtics, who were under .500 in January, have found their identity amid their run to the Eastern Finals, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who takes a closer look at the role each of the club’s primary rotation pieces has played in the second-half and postseason surge.
- Ime Udoka finished outside of the top three in Coach of the Year voting, but the work the first-time head coach has done to lead the Celtics to the Eastern Finals can’t be overstated, as Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe details. “For a first-year coach, it’s almost — I feel like it’s unheard of. His level of poise, his level of confidence never changed,” Brown said. “Even when we were down 2-1, or when we were down 3-2, you could tell, the look in his eyes that we were going to win this series. We just needed to handle our business and sometimes you can get in those moments and go away from everything, or start to make over-adjustments. And he didn’t.”
- Jayson Tatum has “cracked the code for true NBA superstardom,” according to Chad Finn of The Boston Globe, who examines how the fifth-year forward’s poise and play-making is making his teammates better.