The wait is over. Grant Williams hit a three.
It had been a nightmarish 0fer stretch from the rookie. Before missing his first twenty-five three-pointers in the NBA, Williams had hit 5-of-12 in the preseason and 7-of-19 in Vegas Summer League. The three was part of his game. He wasn’t a prolific shooter at Tennessee--instead, becoming a two-time SEC Player of the Year dominating the paint--but by his junior year, he shot a respectable 32.6% from behind the (college) arc. But as many of us know who play ball, misses pile up and then it becomes a mental thing.
To his credit, Williams continued to work in practice and take shots in the game. To the team’s credit, they playfully joked about Williams’ streak of bad luck and he seemed to have a sense of humor over it:
And with 4:48 left in the third quarter of a blowout win against the Cavaliers, it happened. After Vincent Poirier slipped a pick-and-roll screen, Williams stepped back and shot over the outstretched hands of Larry Nance Jr. Great quote here from Poirier after the game:
Grant Williams should thank Vinnie "Sexpants" Poirier for making his first 3 happen, as Poirier told The Athletic:— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) December 10, 2019
"I give him the three. You see, that was me on the pick-and-roll making the good screen. And when I make the good screen, open shot, easy shot."
Just as the Celtics celebrated Williams’ first 3 on the court, they were just as excited in the post-game locker room.
Brad Stevens on Celtics' bench celebrating Grant Williams 3: "I love it when they celebrate anything together...it was good to see one go down."— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) December 10, 2019
Jaylen Brown shares that before Grant hit his first three they used to call him Ben Simmons pic.twitter.com/HeDRMzM4Oa— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 10, 2019
Jayson Tatum on Grant Williams’ first 3: “It took him long enough but he knocked it down.”— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 10, 2019
With the Marcus Smart giveaway poster still hanging in his locker, Grant Williams said the bench reaction was the best part of hitting his first NBA three-pointer: “Tacko was in the locker room, I actually felt his energy on the court.” pic.twitter.com/2F5fTVJnCy— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) December 10, 2019
Love the Marcus Smart poster hanging in your locker, Grant. And yet again, we get a glimpse of the rich camaraderie and chemistry that this team has in spades. Whether it’s Williams’ first made 3 or the Celtics rallying together after Kemba Walker’s scary injury in Denver, Boston has put the brotherhood ahead of basketball and in some ways, it’s made all the difference.
On the court, it’s funny what a little confidence will do. None of his teammates have suffered the same stretch of futility as Williams, but some have seen the floodgates open after making their first 3 of the season. Brad Wanamaker was 2-for-7 in the first twelve games of the year; since then, he’s made 9-of-22. However, Semi Ojeleye might be the classic case of taking the lid of the basket. In his first eleven games, Semi hit just one of his first five from behind the arc. He’s now made a triple in each of the last seven games. Both players are now key contributors to the rotation.
After finding early minutes to start the year, Grant’s playing time has tapered off which is a little surprising considering the swath of injuries that have plagued the team. One made three in a meaningless 20+ point win in December doesn’t guarantee Williams anything, but it hopefully starts the ball rolling.