Without Jayson Tatum in the fold as they kicked off their road trip, the Boston Celtics traveled to Scotiabank Arena to take on the Toronto Raptors on Saturday. Already down a key player, both Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) and Robert Williams (left knee hyperextension) would leave the game before halftime. The Celtics depth came to play, and stepped up with three starters out of the picture.
Grant Williams rose to the occasion, dropping a regular season career-high 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three, 7-of-8 from the charity stripe, and chipped in 5 rebounds along with an assist and a block. It was the second highest scoring game of Grant Williams’ career, trailing only his 27-point Game 7 performance against the Bucks this past postseason run.
“Yeah, they’re a vital part of this team,” said Grant Williams on losing Marcus Smart and Robert Williams. “It sucks whenever they’re out or missing time. But every guy on the team has a next man up mentality. We knew being one of the deepest teams in the league that we’re gonna be prepared to play, and the guys really stepped up.”
Payton Pritchard (12 points, 4-of-7 from three, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, steal) and Malcolm Brogdon (23 points, 8-of-16, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, block) were two players who made a massive impact for the Celtics in their 106-104 win.
"We can't ever settle and take a night off. That's not who we are."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 22, 2023
Grant Williams talks about the Celtics ability to battle back in close games pic.twitter.com/5CWODXQu9J
“Payton, Blake, Luke, and the minutes they play are phenomenal. Malcolm did a great job,” continued Williams. “We’re fortunate enough to get this win, and we gotta do it again because who knows who we’ll have for the Orlando game, y’know?” The Celtics continue their road trip with a back to back between the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat on Monday and Tuesday. Smart and Brogdon have already been ruled out. During the team’s rough patch in December, Boston lost two straight to Orlando at TD Garden.
“We don’t want a mentality of losing,” said Williams on the team’s resilience while missing players. “For us, every night, we compete to the highest level. We have to get beat being who we are, that’s kind of the mark of this team now. Just understanding that we can’t ever settle for less and just take a night off because that’s just not who we are. That’s not how we’re built, and it’s the mental toughness to understand that ‘yeah, we’re one of the best teams, or better teams’ or whatever else, and you have to show that every single night.”
"He was the trigger for us."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 22, 2023
Joe Mazzulla talks Grant Williams big performance vs. Raptors pic.twitter.com/mUgaAvn0qz
Joe Mazulla praised Williams and his effort with guys out of the lineup. “He was great for us tonight. He was the trigger for us,” said Mazzulla. “With him, Al, Rob, those bigs, they trigger the offense for us because they’re the ones that notice the coverage solution, and they’re the ones that get us to the next action. So, Grant was huge for us tonight.”
With Smart and Brogdon already ruled out against the Magic and Robert Williams questionable today, Grant Williams and the remaining crew will need to be ready to take on Orlando at 7:00 pm EST.