Forward of yesterday’s Thunder sport, which the Celtics received (considerably) handily, I used to be combing by the Nuggets sport, which the Celtics received handily, searching for the precise second that Grant Williams realized he was now not simply “Grant,” however a masked vigilante with a mission to defend Gotham — er, Boston.
Positive, his stalwart defensive effort in opposition to the reigning league MVP, Nikola Jokic, will function a big pillar in any telling of his hero’s journey. However each hero has that second, the one which adjustments them. Peter Parker was bit by a spider; Jefferson Reed solely become Meteor Man after he was struck within the head by an area rock.
For Grant Williams, it was this:
NBC Sports activities Boston’s Sean Grande nailed it on the decision: “Ooo, Grant! That’s new!”
It was. So is the Grant we’ve seen this season.
If Sunday’s win in Denver was the evening that Grant Williams found that he needed to be known as Batman, Monday evening’s victory in Oklahoma Metropolis was the second he turned The Batman. Very like Robert Pattinson’s rendition of the caped crusader in Matt Reeves’ hit 2022 movie, The Batman, Williams has found the type of hero he desires to be this season, and has accomplished a outstanding job of filling in his personal gaps to solidify his mission as a participant. Does he nonetheless have his flawed tendencies? Positive. However he’s changing into a extra versatile asset; the type of hero each group wants.
“It wasn’t simply due to the entire Joker factor,” he stated Monday of his want to be referred to by his self-ordained nickname, the one his dad tried to coin a yr in the past after he performed nicely in opposition to Jokic. “It was extra so I’m not like essentially the most athletic, I’m not essentially the most unbelievable, however brains after which like every part else you’re employed with… Tonight, it simply helped, swooping in, had my cape on, helped out.”
It has been enjoyable watching Grant convert his zany power into confidence this season — maybe that’s the best way through which he’s most like Peter Parker, as he famous in final evening’s press convention. He’s at all times gave the impression to be a enjoyable grasp, however now, he’s a dependable offensive choice. His capturing splits (48-42-91) border on elite-level effectivity. His whole factors per 100 shot makes an attempt, 129.9, place him within the league’s 83rd percentile amongst bigs, per Cleansing the Glass. It’s well-documented that Williams is among the league’s finest shooters from the nook: 29 % of his photographs come from there (99th percentile), and he makes 49 % of them (93rd percentile). However general this season, his career-best 42 % capturing from deep reveals marked enchancment over time. In his rookie yr, he shot 25 % from three, and as a sophomore, he hit simply 37 %.
In brief, Williams has by no means been as offensively dynamic and reliable as he has been this season.
And Williams reached new heights in opposition to the Thunder on Monday evening when he recorded the first 20 level/10 rebound sport of his profession, each totals have been profession highs. Williams shot 50 % from the sector, regardless of an uncharacteristic 1-for-4 evening from deep, and went five-of-six (83 %) from the free-throw line. He additionally managed to not document a single turnover, regardless of enjoying the third-most minutes (37:50) that he has all season in a begin instead of Robert Williams.
Williams moved a bit extra on the ground than we’re accustomed to seeing from him. As an alternative of remaining stationary within the nook or in and across the put up like he tends to, he made swift cuts, transferring from one spot to the subsequent after a move. He lined 2.81 whole miles of court docket through the sport in opposition to Oklahoma Metropolis, in accordance with NBA monitoring knowledge, essentially the most of any Celtic, and the second-most of any participant within the sport behind OKC’s Darius Bazley (2.92). That’s a bizarre stat, however it reveals Williams’ degree of exercise over the course of these 4 quarters.
Discover how typically Williams discovered his means into the paint, even when these alternatives appear distant. Perhaps it was the minutes, or the beginning spot, or only a temper, however Williams scored 12 of his 20 factors within the level — for reference, he averages 2.4 factors within the paint per sport this season, simply ninth-most of any Celtic this season.
Williams one-upped his personal play on offense together with his hustle play on each ends to thwart a late bid for a Thunder comeback. He hustled down an offensive rebound and drew a foul off a missed three from Jaylen Brown.
And moments later, he swatted away Tre Mann’s three-point try. Recreation over, for all intents and functions, regardless of Oklahoma Metropolis — now on a 10-game dropping streak — making a critical run to make this sport shut, regardless of it not feeling that means for 3 quarters.
“I really feel like this group is rising nearer and nearer each single day,” Williams stated. “We’re proving ourselves so we will compete not solely with the most effective groups, the worst groups, however anybody within the league. It’s a matter of sustaining the consistency, not using the highs or lows, simply staying even-keeled.”
Yeah, Williams can are usually erratic off the dribble — there’s a model of the play on this article’s first video the place Williams dribbles it off his foot, or has his shot despatched again by Jokic — however he’s turn out to be extra attune to when it’s time to shoot and time to reset and take inventory of his subsequent transfer. Positive, he leaves one thing to be desired on the defensive finish; he’s often clunky, and straightforward to beat off the dribble. However his power and girth work in his favor, as he can physique shooters down low, deterring even the simplest of bunnies.
It’s not at all times fairly. However for Williams, that’s hardly the secret. It’s about the way you reply, about the way you adapt to your function. The Celtics are studying that because it pertains to their place among the many NBA’s elite at this very second; Williams has been an integral a part of it.
“We simply discovered that we’ve got that perseverance and the battle by adversity, each within the many video games in addition to the fortitude to stick with each other,” he stated. “… It’s a matter of sustaining that and maintaining that going and preserve being the group that we’re, enjoying the best way that we’re.”