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Tatum: “I did not feel comfortable throwing Grant Williams an alley-oop on a fast break”

Tatum poked fun at Williams after a blowout in Brooklyn, but also explained how crucial he has been to the Celtics’ success this year.

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics slaughtered the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night, 129-106. After their tough loss to the Detroit Pistons before the All-Star break, this was the performance fans wanted to see, one that showed that their last game was merely a blip on the radar.

With the Celtics surging, some smaller, funnier storylines are beginning to present themselves. Instead of talking about the early season struggles and hovering around .500, the conversation has shifted to more lighthearted topics. After the Nets game, that topic was none other than Grant Williams.

Late in the game, as the Celtics were closing things out, Boston went on a fast break. Tatum brought the ball up the floor and Williams, who was trailing, called for the alley-oop.

Tatum did not throw the alley-oop. Williams was not pleased.

Williams hit Tatum with an “oh, wow,” laughing as he trotted back on defense. During his press conference after the game, Tatum was asked about the incident. And despite his love for Williams, he admitted that he had little faith in him catching the lob.

“First of all, I love Grant to death, but he had a better chance of just calling for the ball, I think. When he pointed up is when I made the executive decision of taking it myself. Because I think, I don’t know, if Grant has caught an alley-oop, he’s probably caught two or three in his whole career.”

Maybe Tatum wasn’t a big Tennessee fan, because it looks like Williams was perfectly capable of catching alley-oops in college.

Tatum also revealed that he has a shortlist of players he would consider throwing the ball to for an oop on the fast break. Evidently, Williams does not crack that list.

“I just told him, on the fast break, there are two guys I’m going to throw the lob to: Rob and JB. Grant is a lot lower on that list. So maybe we can practice it, but in-game, I did not feel comfortable throwing Grant Williams an alley-oop on a fast break. So, I decided to just take it myself.”

Williams finished the game with 10 points and three rebounds, shooting 4-for-8 from the field, so maybe Tatum was just looking out for him and his shooting percentages. He is closing in on the 50-40-90 club, so Tatum was probably just looking out for his teammate.

Tatum was also asked about Williams’ transition and one layup from earlier in the contest. Williams ran the fast break himself and managed to secure one of the highlights of the night.

And this time around, Tatum showed nothing but love for his teammate.

“I mean, that play he had on the fast break where he slowed down, went with two, stuck his hands out, and got the and-one and the layup. I ain’t got nothing bad to say about that. That was nice. I mean, he shocked himself. He didn’t know how to react, he just started smiling.”

He even took it a step further, explaining how much Williams has improved since entering the league.

“That shows the evolution of Grant. He’s been working on his game. Obviously, when he first came in, he did, more so, what he was asked. Come in, be an energy guy, screen, rebound. He’s shot the ball extremely well and expanded his game.”

Remember, Williams missed his first 25 threes as a rookie. It got to the point where his teammates were calling him Ben Simmons. So, to see him making threes at the clip he’s making them this season is incredible.

Williams has even begun to attack closeouts, now that defenders are forced to guard him at the three-point line. Tatum pointed to this part of his game, too, saying how important he is to everything the Celtics are doing.

“Obviously, he’s a key part of our team and what we’re trying to do moving forward. Just having another guy who can make plays off the dribble, especially driving closeouts and things like that. Everybody feels comfortable with Grant doing that because we see the work he’s puts in.”

The C’s are now nine games above .500 and sit only one game back of the Cleveland Cavaliers for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Their next game is Saturday afternoon when they take on the Pistons at 12:00 p.m.