By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Someone on the Celtics roster is going to have to step up to fill the Marcus Smart void over the next few weeks. It’s not that other players have to go out and do everything that Smart does on a nightly basis, but they’re going to have to chip in with the little things.READ MORE: CVS Lists Teachers As Eligible For COVID Vaccine Appointments In Massachusetts
It’s going to be someone different each night, as head coach Brad Stevens said when the C’s touched down in San Francisco on Monday. On Tuesday night, as the Celtics tipped off their five-game road trip against the Golden State Warriors, that player was Grant Williams.
Williams logged a DNP against the Lakers on Saturday night and has been in and out of the Boston lineup (and Stevens’ doghouse) for much of the season. But he went from being glued to the bench a few nights ago to having his best game of the season on Tuesday.
Williams played 27 minutes in Boston’s 111-107 win over Golden State, tallying 15 points off a perfect 4-for-4 shooting. He hit all three of his triples, pulled down four rebounds and had a pair of important blocks during the contest.
Without Smart to bark out defensive orders the next 2-3 weeks, the Celtics need someone to serve as a loudspeaker on the floor. Williams, who also possesses the gift of gab away from the floor, accomplished that and received rave reviews from his teammates. He also made some big plays himself, blocking a Steph Curry 3 before halftime and rejecting a Kelly Oubre dunk attempt with just over five minutes left in the fourth. The block on Oubre led to a three for Kemba Walker to put Boston up 101-96.
Williams’ biggest rebound came off the offensive glass following a Daniel Theis miss, which he put back for an easy deuce midway through the fourth.
“Smart being the heart and soul of our team and being the guy that leads us on that end of the court, with him being out we have to step up,” Williams said after his big game. “Not just myself, but Semi [Ojeleye] and other guys did a lot of great things. Guys made a lot of good plays. My job was being able to communicate what was coming and being able to help guys understand that there is a priority on the floor, to make sure to get there and cover each other and have each other’s backs.”READ MORE: Watch Live @ 9 AM: Baker Announcement On COVID Vaccinations In Massachusetts
“He’s really smart and he pays attention to detail. He’s constantly yelling out whatever the other team is doing,” said Kemba Walker “He’s just a real talkative guy out there and we need that.”
The second-year undersized big was opportunistic on Tuesday, and it led to some good things happening for the Celtics on both ends of the floor. He looked confident with his long-range shot, though he did say he can’t show any hesitation when teammates set him up for an easy look.
“I’m definitely more comfortable. Still learning though. A couple opportunities I could have shot the ball but I put it on the floor. On this team, you have to take the open look when it’s available,” said Williams, who is up to 47 percent from downtown this season. “We have a lot of great players that get you great looks and you can’t be shy to take them. But I’m confident in my shot and just trying to continue to grow and progress as time goes on.”
A sure sign of some shooting maturity came on Williams’ last splash of the evening. At the end of the third quarter, he answered a Curry three with a sidestep three of his own, shaking off Draymond Green in the corner. While his other triples were aided by Boston’s playmakers, that one was all Williams.
“It’s something I practice and sometimes it’s needed,” he said. “You have to be able to get a shot up in the pinch of the battle.”
We’re not going to expect this type of production out of Williams on the nightly basis. And as Stevens said on Monday, the Smart minutes will be filled by a variety of players based on Boston’s matchups.MORE NEWS: Boston May Transition Away From Fenway Park As Mass COVID Vaccination Site
But when his number was called, Williams was ready. He stood tall and helped fill a the void in San Francisco.