Doc used a seven man rotation yesterday that didn't feature Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford, or Chris Wilcox. He didn't throw in D.J. White, Shavlik Randolph, or Fab Melo to give Garnett a blow. Instead, he went to Terrence Williams. The Terrence Williams that spent much of the 2013 season with the Guangdong Southern Tigers. The Terrence Williams that has spent four years in the NBA with four different teams. That Terrence Williams. In Doc's words, "Sometimes you pull out a card. It was him tonight."
After the game, the vets gushed at his play:
Williams earning Celtics trust in playoffs
"He steadied the ship," said Celtics guard Jason Terry who like Williams, is also from Seattle. "He gives us another ball-handler. He is a hard worker. It is paying off for him."
"He is showing the poise in big game situations," Pierce said. "At the point guard (position), we're asking him to come in here and run our offense. He hasn't been rattled. He's been playing terrific defense, just playing under control. Most of the time when you see guys in their first playoff moments, they are a little anxious, they rush a lot. You don't see that with him. He has the poise of a veteran and he's given us great minutes every game."
Now, the demise of Avery Bradley has been greatly exaggerated. Jackie MacMullan mentioned on M&M that the team has lost trust in Bradley (and Doc with Courtney Lee), but to be fair, both members of the Pit Bulls are playing out of position. Neither are point guards and their value on offense was foreseen before the season started as complementary pieces to Rajon Rondo's game. On the other side of the ball, their impact has been diminished in this series on defense because their on-ball coverage on Raymond Felton have been blown up by high (and in my humble opinion, illegal) picks by Tyson Chandler. Felton's also got a lbs on AB and this just isn't the right match-up for Bradley's game.
On the other hand, Williams' skill set is better suited to face New York. His ball-handling ability neutralizes the Knicks' ball pressure and TWill's instinct is to constantly keep his dribble and attack the paint. Sound a lot like a penetrating point guard who wears #9? Where Avery Bradley would hang out on the perimeter and shoot the mid-range jumper, Williams is forcing the issue. In seventeen turnover-free minutes last night, Williams found Bradley and Pierce for open jumpers and scored twice at the rim. We're seeing now why Doc Rivers raved about Terrence Williams' playmaking skills and why he cast him as a point guard. The way Doc has been shuffling the lineup, would anybody be surprised if Williams was in the starting five tomorrow night?