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Grant Williams let his game do the talking in the Celtics’ Game 4 win


Celtics

“You must be ready at all times.”

The Celtics' Grant Williams hit that three-pointer over Miami's Max Strus to give Boston an 88-77 lead in the third quarter.  The Boston Celtics visited the Miami Heat for Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference Finals series at Kaseya Center.

Grant Williams sank four of his six 3-pointers in Boston’s Game 4 win at Miami. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

Jimmy Butler had Grant Williams where he wanted him.

With nine minutes remaining in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Butler once again put his new foe in his sights, rolling him back low before turning around for his trademark fadeaway jumper.

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But after being repeatedly burned by the Heat franchise star just four days ago, Williams was ready to counter Butler’s midrange attempt. The Celtics forward fended off Butler’s shot, collecting the rebound and keeping a nine-point lead intact.

But as he descended the floor of the Kaseya Center, Williams opted to refrain from any animated chirps and boos directed at Butler.

Clearly, the scrappy forward learned his lesson from Game 2. And with Boston’s season on the line, Williams opted to let his game do the talking.

Jayson Tatum’s second-half surge (25 of his 34 points came after halftime) might have given Boston a win, but Williams’ contributions off the bench can’t be overlooked.

Williams made the most of the 29 minutes Joe Mazzulla gave him on Wednesday, sinking four of his six 3-point shots en route to 14 points. Along with his hit against Butler, Williams had six rebounds (two offensive) to go along with two assists and a steal.

“We love Grant,” Marcus Smart said after Boston’s 116-99 win. “We love everything he brings to this team. You need a guy like Grant to win.

Williams’ precision shot helped Boston right the ship in terms of its greatest offensive strength.

After connecting just 29.2 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc in the first three games of this series, Boston sank 18 of 45 3-point looks in Game 4.

In games where the 2022-23 Celtics have shot at least 40% from 3-point range, they are 37-2.

In games where it dips below that threshold? They are 29-31 years old.

“I think the pace is what really helped us,” Williams said after Boston’s 3-point mismatch. “Defensively, it allowed us to go out in transition and allowed [us] to make it work. If it hadn’t been for our defense taking an interest in it, we probably wouldn’t have had many of those open eyes.

“We did a good job playing with each other when it came to going down and making sure we got the right play with the sending offs. We made the extra pass, the extra play. We didn’t take the first three that were available, we took the best three that were available.

The Celtics needed their 3-point shot to average back if they wanted to bring this streak back to Boston. But it also took a more stingy defensive effort to undo the inevitable pushes generated by Butler and the Heat.

Williams performed those defensive duties beyond what his baseline stats read, especially keeping Butler and Bam Adebayo out of the paint.

“We had an empty possession streak in both halves where we kept defending at a high level,” Mazzulla said of Boston’s defensive intensity. “And so I think it’s a combination of defense at a high level, regardless of whether those [3-pointers] enter. But obviously, when they come in, they help. And that makes things a little easier for us. »

Williams’ defensive grit helped him turn the tables in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals victory over that same Heat team.

Along with averaging nearly nine points and 30.4 minutes per game over the seven-game slugfest, Williams helped quell inside threats like Adebayo as Boston’s top option off the bench.

This postseason hasn’t been so kind to Williams, beyond his failed attempt to knock Butler out of his game last Thursday.

After three rounds of the playoffs, Williams hasn’t touched the ground in five of Boston’s 17 games.

Some of that could be game-based when it comes to Mazzulla’s tinkering, especially in Boston’s previous games against the Hawks and 76ers.

But if Boston is to continue coming out of its 1-3 deficit against Miami, more minutes for Williams must be a necessity.

“I think for me it’s just a matter of maintaining perspective,” Williams said of his playing time. You never know what your role might be on a night. So you need to make sure you prepare for everything that involves your teammates. … You must be ready at all times.

“So there might be a night where I’m asked to play 30 [minutes]. There could be a night when Malcolm [Brogdon] East. I have to do as good a job on the pitch as I do off it. Be great teammates like Blake [Griffin]Malcolm – these guys were for me tonight.



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