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Grant Williams Jersey

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Following his best game of the season thus far, Grant Williams made a rare appearance in the Celtics press room after Boston’s 132-125 win over Toronto. Williams was his usual talkative self, as he answered questions ranging from his own battle for minutes to how he’s been working on his game this season.

“That’s the benefit of having such a talented team that we have. Sometimes you’re out of the rotation, but you have to be there in Stitched Boston Celtics Jerseys support of others, and the guys were there in support of me tonight.”

During his rookie season, Williams missed three games due to DNP-CD’s. In the first half of the current season, Williams has already sat out seven. With minutes as inconsistent as his on-court product, there’s no clear projection on how Williams fits this current roster or where his best position is.

But against the Toronto Raptors last night, Williams put all those existential questions to the side, opting to take advantage of his short-handed opponents in and more importantly, meaningful playing time after just seeing six minutes in Boston’s homestand.

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A keyword when discussing “tweeners” is versatility—if you’re too big for a wing and too small for a big, then you have to be adaptable and diverse in your offensive approach. Take a quick look at the Tennessee products shot profile from this game, and you see a second-year player proving they’re more than a spot-up corner guy.

“I think I was in my own head in the beginning (of the season), and wasn’t working as hard as I could have been. Next thing you know, I flipped the mantra and got back to how I’ve worked my whole life, and I think it’s paid off, whether it be my three-point shooting or my defense, and I think it’s paid off.”

We’re starting to see a more diversified shot profile from the second year big. Against Toronto, the most impressive shot came as Williams stepping into a three-point opportunity following a Payton Pritchard offensive board.

Want to prove you’re more than a spot-up shooter? Then hit a three in motion. Grant steps into this shot, sets his feet, then fires away with confidence. Is this possession indicative of what Williams could do against a hard close out? Nope. Is it a sign that he’s able to hurt teams as a DHO or pick-and-pop threat? You bet it is.

Here’s the funny thing that’s been bothering me. Throughout the preseason, Brad Stevens placed Williams in an Al-Horford-esque role. The second-year tweener ran DHO’s above the break and then either popped or rolled to generate a defensive rotation. Once the regular season rolled around, he was back to restricted spot-up shots.

If Stevens isn’t using Williams in that Horford role, finding a way to excel in the corners like the play below is imperative. Seeing him figure out how to maximize his potential from the corner will be an enormous plus for him. We know he’s never going to be a star offensive player and doesn’t have the size to utilize his post-play the same way he did in college.

Ideally, you don’t want Jayson Tatum attacking baseline in the half-court; you would rather have him work downhill or from the post. Williams recognizes this, initiates the hand-off action, hits the screen, and then pops to the corner for an open pop-up shot.

When a player has Tatum’s scoring gravity, it’s a safe bet that both defenders will stick with him as he comes off a screen. By allowing Tatum to drag the defenders out of position, you’re creating space for an effortless look or room to attack close-outs if help defense rotates over. Not a sexy play but a good indicator of basketball IQ.

Despite Williams efficient scoring outburst—he was 3-of-4 from deep, and 7-of-9 overall—questions still loom over his defense, an area that was previously a strength.

Plays such as this one, where Williams loses focus on his man, allowing a back-cut as a result, have riddled his defensive possessions this season. At first glance, it looks like Williams is doing all the right things.

Operating as the low man, Williams is in a position to help on the drive or tag a rolling big. Still, another aspect of providing help defense is to be aware of your initial assignment, which was Chris Boucher in this instance.

A back-cut from Boucher lead to an easy scoring opportunity around the rim. In fairness, this possession isn’t totally on Williams, as there was missed communication on the initial drive, but plays like this have crept into his game with regularity this year.

Granted, there were also multiple defensive plays where Williams looked good, specifically ones where he was able to keep his man in front of him throughout the possession. Only when Williams is beaten on the initial offensive action, do the fouls or rotational breakdowns occur.

Herein lies one of Stevens’ biggest conundrums.

The chemistry and malleability of Williams’ skillset makes him both an interesting candidate for more playing time and yet, his mastery of nothing has seemingly knocked him out of the rotation. After his 17-point and 4-rebound performance, Williams spoke highly of Kemba Walker’s guidance as he navigates his rocky sophomore season.

“As a leader, he’s been very communicative, not only just for me being in and out of the rotation, telling me to keep my head up, to keep engaged, and stay ready. As a person, he’s one of the best people I’ve ever met in my life, and I’m just thankful to have him around.”

With playing time not guaranteed for Williams, having leaders like Walker and Tatum in his corner will be invaluable as the team enters the second half of the truncated season – primarily due to the struggles he’s had on the defensive end of the floor in recent months.

Williams provided a substantial account of himself, flashed improved offensive awareness, and for the most part, played cohesively on defense. The question now: was this one performance enough to earn back Brad Stevens’ trust and find himself playing consistent minutes again after the All-Star break?

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The Boston Celtics are looking to get back on track after their lackadaisical start to the season and, over their past six outings, they’ve looked to have found some sustained success, going 5-1 through such a span.

That said, despite this streak, the team is still looking to make changes, with rumors coming out about what players they’ll wish to target and, inversely, which players they’ll be willing to ship away come Stitched Boston Celtics Jerseys the March 25th NBA Trade Deadline.

Recently, Yahoo Sports writer Chris Hayes reported that the C’s front office could be open to trading Tristan Thompson at this year’s deadline, with the Toronto Raptors being a potential landing spot for the center.

Though Boston’s frontcourt depth has perhaps been the biggest weakness for the team over the past two years, if Brad Stevens’ latest comments on this specific rotation are any indicators, Thompson may not be the only big man viewed as expendable by the franchise this season.

Could the Boston Celtics be viewing Daniel Theis as expendable?
When the Boston Celtics last took to the court during Sunday’s victory over the Houston Rockets, their usual starting center, Daniel Theis, only managed to log six minutes of action by game’s end.

The peculiar part about this decision by the coaching staff was that there was no clear reason as to why they opted to pull the German Hammer early, as he was not off on his shot (didn’t even get a chance to attempt one), had not let up any turnovers, and was nowhere near finding himself in foul trouble.

So, what gives?

Well, when asked about the minutes distribution for the team’s center rotation during the postgame presser, Stevens insinuated that this type of scenario is connected to a bigger picture moving forward:

“I talked to Theis at halftime. We’re going to be in this situation more now where one of those guys isn’t playing as much, as we’re smaller and it wont be the same guys every night because it’ll be matchup dependent and kind of who’s going…”

Stevens would later go on to state that Boston will be trying to limit their center rotation to just two guys as the season progresses, while also seemingly insinuating that one said “guys” has already been chosen in Robert Williams III, where he would say his desire is to play the third-year pro “more and more and more”:

“… Rob obviously gives us an upside there that I think we just need to keep building and building and building.”

Though the main rumor of late has been that the Boston Celtics could be interested in dealing Thompson, when digging deeper into the idea of shipping off one of their frontcourt talents Theis might actually be the preferred option as he is in the final year of his contract and, with his production over the past two seasons coupled with his specific floor spacing/ rim-protecting skillset he very easily could find himself jumping ship for a larger contract this offseason.

Perhaps Brad Stevens’ recent comments represent more than just praise over Robert Williams’ progression.

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Even after a break, the Brooklyn Nets are still rolling.

They defeated the Boston Celtics 120-109 Thursday and have won 11 of their last 12 games, improving to 25-13. Brooklyn also snapped a four-game winning streak for Boston, which drops to 19-18.

Kyrie Irving dropped 40 points for the Nets, while Boston was paced by 31 points from Jayson Tatum.

Notable Performers

Kyrie Irving, Nets: 40 PTS, 8 REB
Jayson Tatum, Celtics: 31 PTS
Marcus Smart, Celtics: 19 PTS
James Harden, Nets: 22 PTS, 10 REB
The Return of Marcus Smart

The Celtics’ strong start to the season took a nosedive when guard Marcus Smart was sidelined with a calf strain. He missed 18 games dating back to Feb. 2, and the Celtics were 9-9 in that time, though they struggled to find their stride until they won four games to close out the first half.

Smart’s return was crucial against the Nets, even though they were only set to have two of their stars take the court as Kevin Durant remained out with a hamstring injury. Smart’s defense was clutch the last time he was on the same Fake Boston Celtics Jerseys court as James Harden.

Against the Rockets in February 2020, the Celtics fell 111-110, but Harden was limited to 7-of-24 shooting from the field and hit just four of 17 attempts from deep, according to Land of Basketball.

But he was also integral to the Celtics’ success this season. Before he was injured, Boston ranked 11th in defensive rating, and it dropped to 23rd dating back to Jan. 30, Smart’s last outing.

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Head coach Brad Stevens said pregame that Smart would be limited to 20-22 minutes in his return.

He played 10 of those minutes in the first half, scoring eight points as the Nets crept to a three-point lead.

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Boston opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run and Smart emerged in his third go on the court to help the Celtics chase Brooklyn, doubling his point total from the first half in the frame.

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He ended the night with 19 points on four-of-six shooting from the field, going eight-of-nine from the line.

Smart was the leading scorer off of the bench and the second-leading scorer on the team, coupled with an impressive 31 points from Tatum that helped Boston stay in the game and nearly complete a comeback in the final minutes—with a two-point game in the final four minutes—before Irving’s 20th-career 40-point game broke it open in the end.

Celtics Can’t Stop Kyrie Irving

The Celtics haven’t faced the fully loaded Nets this season, since they played Brooklyn on Christmas Day, before Harden joined the team. They didn’t get the chance to experience the Big Three on Thursday either, since Durant remained out.

But Brooklyn has played well Durant’s absence, going 10-1 in its last 11 games without him. Kyrie Irving and Harden have more than managed to fill the void, with Harden scoring at least 20 points in each game, while Irving hasn’t put up fewer than 16, though he missed two games during that span.

Against his former team on Thursday, Irving starred in helping the Nets to a 58-55 halftime lead after they trailed by as many as 11 points in the first quarter. He grabbed 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting from the field in the first half, while Harden was slowed behind him with just 11 points.

While those two took some time to get going, Landry Shamet tallied 12 points in 15 first-half minutes off of the bench.

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As strong as Irving was in the opening half, he was even more of a presence after the break.

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Defensively, Robert Williams III was strong for Boston in his 17 minutes off of the bench, with six blocks, four assists and four rebounds, but his limited time wasn’t enough for the Celtics to stop Brooklyn.

Irving ended the night with 40 points on 15-of-23 shooting, almost singlehandedly handing Brooklyn the win.

What’s Next?

The Celtics will travel to take on the struggling Houston Rockets on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.