Marcus Smart and the Williams’ Step Up

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart and the two Williams’ have lifted the Celtics in their series against the Raptors.

Who doesn’t love a good Marcus Smart game? Remember when he went off for a career-high against the Suns? Of course you do. The Celtics actually lost that game, but all anyone remembers is that Smart was a beast. Well, we got the best of both worlds in game two against Toronto as Smart came up clutch in a narrow victory.

Let me just get this out of the way – both teams played bad. The Celtics’ offense looked stagnant and the Raptors couldn’t get their best three guys going on that end, either. It was a messy, back-and-forth game that truly could have gone either way. Smart was the real turning point.

If he didn’t go in and turn into Steph Curry, then who knows what could have happened. Thinking back, the Raptors had momentum going into the fourth. OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka were killing the C’s and had mounted a comeback to take a lead in the third. Without Smart taking back the momentum, the game could have easily ended very differently.

Bobby Manning (@RealBobManning) mentioned this on one of my latest podcasts – “Marcus Smart is going to be a huge key factor in this series.” With no Gordon Hayward, and the majority of Toronto’s defenders focusing on Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker, Smart would have to step it up. Well, he did just that.

Outside of Smart, two more guys that ended up stepping it up were Robert Williams and Grant Williams. Out of the two, Robert Williams had the more obvious breakout game. He was actually super good in game one, but doing it two games in a row gives him that much more credibility as a bench player. 

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As soon as he checked into the game there was an immediate shift in play. The whole energy on the floor shifted as players adjusted to fit R. Williams into the game plan. Daniel Theis may be the better player, but he rolls to the rim better than Theis, he’s more athletic than Theis, and you could even argue he’s a better offensive rebounder than Theis already. 

His demeanor is normally very quiet and reserved, yet he plays with this amazing energy that lifts up the Celtics every time he steps on the floor. Boston’s bench has been extremely bad this year, and with that being the main problem talked about when discussing the C’s, having a guy who can consistently put up 10 points and five boards and play solid defense for them off the bench is huge.

Then there’s the other Williams. Grant Williams actually played more minutes than Robert Williams did, even though it probably didn’t feel that way. If you just look at the stat sheet, Rob had the better game, but it’s the little things that make Grant so special.

First of all, his defense is so underrated. A lot of people talk about how smart of a player he is, but it’s his ability to use that knowledge and find results that’s really impressive. Looking at the defense he played against Pascal Siakam specifically, he was like a brick wall out there. Even on the perimeter he had this crazy lateral quickness that allowed him to stay in front of seemingly everybody the Raptors threw at him. 

Then on the other end of the floor, his hustle is just as impressive. I swear Enes Kanter has been feeding these guys all his secrets. I just talked about how solid of an offensive rebounder Robert Williams has been, and the same can be said about Grant. He’s just always looking to get into the right position to grab an offensive rebound.

The one time where this was especially crucial came off of a rare Smart miss. He flew up and snatched the rebound out of the air away from two Raptors players. Then he had the wherewithal to kick it out to Tatum who nailed a three in the grill of Toronto, leading to a Nick Nurse timeout. We all remember the Tatum dagger, but real ones remember the rebound that led to it.

Overall the play of Boston’s bench has just elevated itself to a whole other level in the playoffs. I can’t wait to see where both Robert and Grant Williams can go from here as they both continue to grow and improve. Also, I count Smart as part of the bench. I know that with Hayward out Smart has been starting, but he will always be the sixth man to me. Long live the Celtics, and long live Marcus Smart.

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