During the Boston Celtics‘ second-half resurgence, a number of players have emerged to play key roles in the turnaround. Chief among them are the team’s frontcourt All-Stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. While both players are in the midst of career years, they have been particularly good as of late.
In Boston’s April 15 win over the LA Lakers, Brown dropped an incredible 40 points on just 20 shot attempts. And Tatum was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week recently after a string of games that included a 53-point outburst against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
As good as the Celtics’ dynamic duo has been, though, the improved play of the team’s support players has undoubtedly played an equal role in Boston’s transformation.
In particular, a certain Celtics role player has managed to have a massive impact on games with his defense.
He may not have captured headlines with his play as of late, but when second-year forward Grant Williams has been on the court for head coach Brad Stevens lately, the opposition has largely struggled to put up enough points to keep pace with Beantown’s big guns.
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Grant Williams’ Off-the-Charts Defensive Numbers
On the surface, there’s not much to say about Williams’ contributions during the Celtics’ current stretch of nine wins in 11 games. In fact, his raw numbers paint the portrait of a player on his way out of Stevens’ rotation.
Dating back to April 2, the 22-year-old big man is averaging just 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game, while shooting a paltry 31.6% from the field.
Defensively, though, his impact has been undeniable.
Over that same span, the Celtics have allowed just 98.2 points per 100 possessions when Williams has been on the floor. That’s not just the best mark on the team among rotation regulars, it’s the best mark in the Association among those having played as many minutes.
Consequently, the Cs have been way better with him on the court than on the bench. Williams boasts a team-best net swing of 12.7 in April.
In terms of shot defense, Williams has been effective in limiting the efficacy of opponents. Over the last 11 games, opponents have made 3.2% less of their attempts when compared to their norms when he was the closest defender. He may not be crushing it on three-point shooters, but on two-point attempts, that number jumped to 7.1%.
He is also fouling much less than he has at other junctures this season. In January, he racked up an incredible 8.4 fouls/100 poss. This month, that number is down to 5.9.
Celtics Getting Some Extra Help Against the Nets?
On Friday, the Celtics will square off with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in the Brooklyn Nets. And while the team enters the contest with a number of injuries — Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Robert Williams are all out — one key player could make his return.
As noted by MassLive, sharpshooter Evan Fournier is finally off the injury report after having been in the league’s health and safety protocols
Meanwhile, Kevin Durant, who had previously been listed as questionable for Brooklyn, now officially joins his All-Star teammate James Harden as a scratch.
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