There must be a worse way to lose a game than to miss two free throws with a few seconds left in regulation. A lesson gained by Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams was that trash talk can be exchanged before shots are missed.
Boston had already been having a hard stretch, having lost three of their previous four games and leading by 15 points in both the second and third quarters of Monday’s away game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers trailed by double digits with 4:15 left in the fourth, but they came back to level the game at 109 in the dying seconds.
After Donovan Mitchell made a pair of free throws to tie the game with 5.8 seconds to play, the Celtics possessed the ball. As Payton Pritchard’s layup attempt sailed wide, the ball found its way into Williams’ hands and he was fouled with 0.8 seconds remaining.
Williams, a career 86.4% free throw shooter, had a chance to win the game with two free shots. With Williams’s “I’m going to make ’em both” look to Mitchell, the game should have been done for Boston.
Grant Williams chirping back at Donovan Mitchell, “I’m gonna make ‘em both” and proceeds to miss both shots… pic.twitter.com/MALZNKdo8P
— Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique) March 7, 2023
Hopefully, you can guess where this is heading from here. Neither of them was created by Williams.
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After Williams’s first missed free shot, the Cavaliers made an effort to do everything in their power to put him on ice. A player of Williams’ caliber should be able to make at least one of those shots, not both of them, and force overtime:
The Cavs masterfully ice Grant Williams at the line, causing a near 45 second delay between the potential game-winning free throws. https://t.co/D00eulukmc pic.twitter.com/47vCxixZUJ
— Sherwob Holmes (@WorldWideWob) March 7, 2023
The extra time was also not kind to the Celtics, especially after Mitchell’s huge dunk midway through. It was a 118-114 defeat for the Celtics.
After the game, Mitchell told reporters that Williams was actually correct when he predicted that he would make both free throws. Mitchell further claimed the statement resulted from his own trash-talking:
“You just try to mess with him mentally and see what happens. I have no doubt in my mind that if Grant’s in that position again tomorrow or the next day, he’s going to make both free throws. He’s a good player, just trying to find a way to get in his head a little bit”.
Williams scored a total of 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. He just went to the line for those two efforts, and he didn’t score. Against the Celtics, Mitchell scored 40 points, grabbed 11 boards, and dished out four assists, giving him his third 40-point game of the season.
The 45-21 Celtics are currently two games behind the 16-game winning Milwaukee Bucks, who also suffered a tough setback. At 41-26, the Cavaliers are 4.5 games behind.
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