It is crystal clear how the Boston Celtics booted out the Brooklyn Nets in four games. They locked up scoring machine Kevin Durant to oblivion. One of the players tasked to guard him was Grant Williams, who was so committed to his task that he defended Durant even after the whistle. On one occasion, referee Scott Foster noticed Williams’ antics and tried to stop him.
Walking the talk
Williams discussed why he stuck with Durant even after the whistle. Though Foster tried to break them up, Williams believed he still succeeded in getting a hand up.
“You gotta follow through on what you say, right? It was just about not letting him get an easy look off. It’s late in the game, he hadn’t really gotten an open look most of the night, other than probably that wide-open 3 he had. So, for me, it was just like, alright, I might as well not let him see the ball go in.”
“Scott tried to stop me and I was like, ‘Yeah, you can stop me, but I’m still gonna get a contest off.' Had to make it seem like every shot he took was contested.”
Grant Williams, NBC Sports.
Statistics reveal that while Jayson Tatum defended Durant most of the time (and successfully shut him down), Williams did very well, too, in his 13:05 minutes of match-up time with the former MVP.
This showcased Williams’ versatility and potential to be one heck of a defender. Let’s note that he's 6'6'', yet he sometimes matched up with Durant and even Kyrie Irving. These are terrible mismatches on paper, but Williams certainly stood his ground against two scoring juggernauts.
Durant talks back
On those occasions, Williams stood by Durant and heard the Nets’ star share his thoughts on the Celtics’ stifling defense. Durant felt the physicality that he thought they were playing a different sport.
“From the start of the series, honestly, that’s how I felt — make everything tough,” said Williams. “The funniest line that KD always says is like, ‘We’re playing football out here.’ That’s the most he’ll ever say.”
“He’s a guy that wants to compete with anyone. So he never takes any job lightly, he never complains or anything like that. He’s just a guy that wants to win and wants to battle.”
Grant Williams, NBC Sports
The Celtics will face the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. We can expect the Ime Udoka-coached squad to hound Giannis Antetokounmpo all series long. Tatum may be once again assigned to cover the two-time MVP. But don’t be surprised if Williams steps up and shuts him down too.