Grant Williams has enjoyed a revelatory third season in the NBA, emerging as an effective and consistent role player off the bench and leading the Boston Celtics in three-point percent with a 42% mark from deep. Friday night against Portland, his career season continued with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three made triples. How he did it, though, was perhaps a little bit different from what we’re accustomed to seeing from him.
Williams’ big night began to brew in the second quarter, in the midst of an energetic Celtics run that saw them outscore the Blazers 33-14 across the last nine minutes before halftime. The run itself kicked off with a Williams triple, but the real eyebrow-raiser came minutes later, when he channeled his inner Jayson Tatum and connected on a ludicrously smooth side-step three to cut the Portland lead to two. Where did this come from?
The side-step was one of three triples drilled by Williams on the night, all of which came before halftime. But while the scoring impact may have tailed off in the second half, Williams found other ways to make an offensive impact. Here, for your viewing pleasure, is his alley-oop feed to Jaylen Brown in the third quarter.
That pass is just the appetizer, though. How does “Grant Williams drive-and-kick” sound for an entrée? For a player who operates primarily as a catch-and-shoot threat (those looks account for more than two-thirds of his shot attempts on the season), this kind of dribble creation is a genuine surprise. Look at him go!
His third assist, though less bombastic than the previous two, is nonetheless a solid highlight from the fourth quarter. He recognizes the double-team on Tatum, sees the defense overcommit to Horford in the paint and immediately redirects Tatum’s kick-out pass over to Langford in the corner, who had nobody even in his zip code. Just a nice, uncomplicated piece of work.
There was simply a lot of juice in Williams’ game tonight. Even when it didn’t necessarily work out, he was doing things we don’t necessarily see from him all that often. This play ends in a turnover, and you might have wanted to see him force the issue at the rim instead of trying for the high-difficulty pass. But look at the burst! Plays like these will create more opportunities than not.
The Celtics ultimately fell to the Trail Blazers on Friday night in brutally disappointing fashion, squandering the lead with a scoreless stretch late in the fourth quarter. But despite the frustration of the result, it’s worth crediting the players who put that lead in place to begin with. Grant Williams was at the heart of an exciting outing for the younger players on the Celtics’ roster, and it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate his remarkable highlight reel for the evening.