By Madisen Carter
Third-year power forward, Grant Williams, had an outstanding 2021-22 season with the Boston Celtics. From setting a career-high 27 points in the playoffs, to winning the Eastern Conference Finals, to stepping foot on an NBA Finals stage, Williams believes his work ethic is what got him to the point he is at today.
Along with his work ethic, Williams credits all the people who have helped him along the way from his high school and college coaches to now his coaches and trainers in the NBA. He said he has been fortunate to work with Unlimited Potential Basketball’s Coach Packie Turner, as well as Blake Boehringer, Boston Celtics’ Brandon Bailey, and more.
“The things that I've learned from those mentors as the years have gone on have helped me become the man and possible player that I [am] today,” Williams said. “Then when I got to the league, the biggest thing that I've learned is how fast it goes. So taking advantage of every moment that you're within it, but also trying to enjoy every moment."
Williams definitely had fun this past season but he also buckled down and made his mark on the Boston Celtics. In the 2021-22 season, Williams started in 21 of the 77 games he played in and averaged 8.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting 46% from the field and 41% from behind the arc. Williams and the Celtics finished with an overall record of 51-31 making it all the way through the NBA Playoffs to the NBA Finals.
In the win or go home Game 7 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs, Williams was the game changer. He racked up a career-high 27 points in the TD Garden and even tied an NBA Game 7 record on seven made three point shots on 18 attempts. The whole Celtics team broke their own playoff record sinking in 22 three pointers out of 55 attempts. The Celtics won Game 7 109-81 and headed to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Miami Heat.
“It was heartwarming to feel [that] success from all the years of energy and effort that [I] put in leading up to that point. It just just showed that hard work pays off. It gave me a better mentality heading on throughout the rest of my career and honestly through the finals of just being confident,” Williams said. “That is one of those things that you just want to feel like you are making a difference and that's something that I feel like that Game 7 allowed me to do, and gave me more confidence to say that I'm here for a reason, I'm here to make sure I have a very insightful and great time and also just try to inspire those behind me.”
The Celtics then went on to Miami to face the Heat to start off the Eastern Conference Finals. That series went to seven games as well starting in Miami and finishing in Miami when Williams and the Celtics sealed the deal with a close 100-96 win. Williams said winning the Eastern Conference Championship was his favorite memory of the 2021-22 season because of the joy it brought his teammate Al Horford and seeing all his hard work pay off throughout his career. He also said it was great to say that he and his brothers took that step and were able to play in an NBA Finals together.
The Celtics faced the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The series went to six games and the Warriors ended up coming out on top to become the Champions. Although the Celtics team did not win, the experience for Williams was surreal because going to the Finals is something that people dream about.
Williams said for the young team to make it back to the Finals and secure the win, the Celtics just need to keep improving together everyday and trusting each other. Improving relationships, improving through every game, and challenging each other with deep and needed conversations and focusing on each other can help lead to the team’s success in the upcoming seasons.
Now in the off-season, Williams has been focusing on improving on the offensive side of the ball, being able to create shots off the dribble and catching shots off the run. He has also worked on being defensively in shape so that he can make sure he is playing with more guard versatility. He said that he has also been working on being more involved in actions in the offense and finding space so that he can be a threat no matter where he is on the court.
The regular NBA season starts in October, and until then the Eastern Conference Champs will be putting in the work to make it back to the next NBA Finals. Williams will be working with that same goal in mind and continuously getting better in the game that he loves.
“Honestly, I love the game of basketball. The thing about basketball is it’s a community bridger, it's a gap bridger. [It] also allows you to have a lot of great relationships not [only] in life, but [it] also teaches you about life. It's something that I fell in love with just because not only the friends that I've made from it, but also the sport itself,” Williams said. “The intricacies, the squeaks on the floor when you're running on it, the shot swish of a net when it goes through, like all that stuff really enamors me… So I love basketball. What it's done for me in my life and also what it will continue to do for the world.”