Throughout this season, Grant Williams has struggled to find much consistency in his play. He has been shuffled around in a crowded back end rotation that has changed his opportunity each night. His production rarely shows up in the box score, however, his impact is felt outside of the statistics. Instead, he learns from the Marcus Smart School of Hard Knocks and knows what to do each night to collect “Tommy Points.”
Sunday against the Denver Nuggets, Williams only tallied 2 points on three shots, 2 rebounds, and an assist, but he lead all Celtics with a +23 in just 20 minutes of play, including a huge fourth quarter when the team went on a 31-8 run to seal the game. Grant Williams switched onto MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic and shut him down completely.
Grant spoke about pressuring Jokic and closing off his open passing lanes. “It was just a matter of making it tough for him. There was no real plan,” Williams said. “I was trying to take him out of his rhythm and make it easier for the guys around me. We were getting beat on back cuts a lot at that time, and I had Rob to protect behind me. So, I just tried to make it harder on him.”
Williams was physical and played up on Jokic the moment he got the ball. Williams made him fight to try and get down in the paint for his hook shot. Then, if he was getting close to the rim each of the times, Robert Williams was behind him to contest the shot attempt. It was a perfect game plan that frustrated Jokic. First, he committed a careless foul and then started complaining to the refs leading to easy fast break points for the Celtics.
Over the last five games, the Celtics have been playing some of their best basketball of the season. Grant Williams has been averaging about 20 minutes in this stretch. He is only averaging 1.6 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, but Williams is also leading the team in average +/- during these five games at a +10.2. He may not have the traditional stats to show for it, but Grant is impacting the game in huge ways for his team.
This was the peak moment in the game where Jokic blew up. Again, Williams was bodying Jokic up far away from the basket and then Jokic tried his patented fadeaway. However, Grant was so far up in Jokic’s space that he blocked the shot. Jokic then went to complain to the referee about a foul call while the Celtics were already breaking out into transition again. Grant was able to get under his skin and impact his game throughout the fourth quarter.
Williams was asked post-game by CelticsBlog’s Keith Smith about how inconsistent playing time affects him and the ability to stay ready. “You just have to stay mentally prepared. For any role player in this league, you have to be prepared for whatever is thrown at you each night,” Williams sid. “I just try to be there for when my name is called or one of my teammates’ names are called, and I know they’ll be there for me when it’s my night.”
Even through this roller coaster of a season, the family and brotherhood aspect of this team always stands out. Grant Williams’ comments hit the nail on the head, and it is not just talk with these guys. The game had a different feel to it early in the fourth quarter when Romeo Langford was fouled hard by the Nuggets’ JaMychal Green. Grant immediately ran over and got up into Green letting him know he will be there for his teammate.
Romeo appreciated Grant sticking up for him lol pic.twitter.com/lqriqgZxm6— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) April 11, 2021
Grant Williams proves time and time again that he plays with his heart on his sleeve. Grant got in Jokic’s head, and the Celtics went on to win the game in large part because of Williams’ physical play. Even without the ideal offensive production, he still is a huge piece to the Celtics team going forward.