Celtics

Grant Williams took up Kemba Walker's offer to live together during quarantine

Grant Williams took up Kemba Walker's offer to live together during quarantine

Grant Williams said Boston Celtics teammate Kemba Walker extended an offer for the rookie to live with him during quarantine and the two have been roommates at Walker’s Charlotte, North Carolina home while waiting to see what becomes of the 2019-20 season.

“For as much as I talk, I’m glad that he even considered it,” quipped Williams.

For Williams, who grew up and played his high school ball in Charlotte, being around familiar places but still being able to absorb from a veteran teammate has maximized his quarantine experience.

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"It’s been amazing,” said Williams. "Just hanging out. Relaxing, being able to get to know each other better, as well as work out together because we’re here, we’re isolated … It was just a great decision.

“[Walker] actually offered it because I was debating even coming home and I was worried because I knew I was going to be either in and out of the house, working out at different places, if possible, or going somewhere to at least stay active. … He said, ‘If you want, you can always stay with me,’ and I took him up on the offer and I’m thankful for him.”

Williams said that Walker has both a weight room and a basketball court on the grounds of what’s listed as an 8,000-square foot home online, which allows the rookie to stay sharp in all facets of the game.

What kind of roommate is Walker?

"He’s great because he’s comfortable. He’s very to himself,” said Williams. "He relaxes a lot and takes care of himself. He’s not really high maintenance or anything like that. So he’s a great dude. In general, he’s one of the best human beings I’ve met throughout this process. He’s a genuine guy. So all he does really is just relax, play games, and watch film, basically. Do everything he can working out too, so that’s about all.”

Williams said he’s kept busy during quarantine by both mentoring a group of kids back in Boston and learning new card games to keep his mind active.

“Honestly, I’ve done a lot,” said Williams. "I’ve tried to stay active. I picked up that mentor program with my kids. I actually have a call with them after I get off the call with [reporters]. And trying to keep them engaged and their minds flowing because they’re in Boston right now and on their own, not able to see friends and stuff. So I’m trying to give them light in kind of the darkness.

"And then also I’ve done a lot of card games because Kemba enjoys cards. I’ve learned how to play Dominion because Mike Zarren, our assistant GM, plays that. So I was like, you know what, I’ll pick that up, too. So I’ve been playing that on my laptop or iPad all the time. Honestly, just whatever is suggested. I have Spades on my phone, Uno on my phone, chess on my phone. I could go down the list. And also video games. I’ve been playing Call of Duty. And I spend my time with basketball, too. So film. And trying to stay active and FaceTime with my family, trying to keep in touch.”

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Williams said he’s hopeful he gets his first taste of the playoffs if the NBA season resumes. He’s confident the league will prioritize player safety and is on board with a neutral site location like Orlando.

He said Celtics players are doing all they can to maintain the obvious chemistry that existed before the season paused.

“We definitely, as a team, keep in touch,” said Williams. "We honestly text every day, we have our group chat, and we do our thing to keep in contact and check in on each other, make sure everybody is staying active.

“The Celtics have done a great job of keeping us going with lifts. We can get on FaceTime or Zoom and all lift together and do certain things. So, at different times of the day, certain people might be in different time zones, depending on where you’re at. My group is definitely me, Tacko [Fall], Carsen [Edwards], Brad [Wanamaker], Semi [Ojeleye] — we have a big group. So we’ve been going for a while.”

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Heat?

2020 NBA Restart: How would Celtics fare in playoff series vs. Heat?

Miami is always a tough opponent come playoff time, but the Boston Celtics have every reason to feel confident they would prevail if the two were to meet in the playoffs in Orlando. 

In their two regular season matchups, the Celtics won both by an average of 13.5 points. 

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Making the victories even more impressive was Boston playing without some top players, as Marcus Smart (illness) missed the Celtics’ 112-93 win at the TD Garden on Dec. 4 while Jayson Tatum (groin) and Enes Kanter (hip) were both sidelined for the rematch, a 109-101 Celtics win, in Miami on Jan. 28. 

In both wins, Jaylen Brown was the one player the Heat had no answer for containing. After dropping a season-high 31 points on Miami in the first matchup, Brown was just as dominant in the second meeting when he scored 25 points, only to be outshined by Gordon Hayward’s 29. 

For the Celtics, both wins came down to their ability to force Miami into the Jimmy Butler show while limiting the overall impact of those around him.

But the Heat team Boston could see in the playoffs will be better than the squad that the C's faced earlier in the season. Miami has been a notoriously bad three-point shooting team for years. But after the All-Star break, the Heat averaged 15.5 made threes per game, which was fifth-best in the league. And their 40.8 percent shooting on threes after the break was tops in the league. 

The Celtics' starting five has been strong all season, and will look to continue along that path if the two meet up in the playoffs.

For Miami to pull off the upset, look for the Heat’s bench to play a major role. Miami’s second unit averages 41.3 points per game which ranks seventh in the NBA. They would face a Boston squad that’s allowing a league-low 33.6 bench points per game. Part of that strong defense after the break has been Boston’s board work. After the break, they have a rebounding percentage of .510 which ranks ninth in the league, while the Heat’s .496 rebounding percentage ranks 20th. 

PREDICTIONS FOR CELTICS-HEAT PLAYOFF SERIES

A. Sherrod Blakely: Miami is a better team now than it was during either of Boston’s two regular season wins. But Jayson Tatum’s meteoric rise combined with a healthy Kemba Walker will be too much for the Jimmy Butler-led Heat.

Prediction: Celtics in 5 games

Chris Forsberg: The Heat look a little different than the team Boston toppled twice in the regular season and added veteran, playoff-tested experience in Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder. While Jimmy Butler has a penchant for the big stage, he wasn’t able to get a loaded Philly roster out of the second round a year ago.

The task will be even more difficult here and Miami’s younger players will be challenged to maintain their regular-season production. If healthy, the Celtics have more pure talent overall and match up well against Miami’s small-ball ways.

Prediction: Celtics in 5 games

DJ Bean: We've seen Jimmy Butler's numbers drop in the postseason before, and while Bam Adebayo's a stud, they'd have the same problem virtually every team in the East will have: they just don't have the sheer number of stars Boston does. 

Prediction: Celtics in 5 or 6 games

Kara Lawson writes heartfelt tribute to Celtics after landing Duke job

Kara Lawson writes heartfelt tribute to Celtics after landing Duke job

Kara Lawson was only on the Celtics' coaching staff for one season, but it was clearly a special experience both for her and the team.

On Sunday, C's head coach Brad Stevens and some of the Celtics players both congratulated Lawson on her new job as head coach of the women's basketball team at Duke and described how much of an impact she made in her limited time in Boston.

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Marcus Smart was effusive in his praise for the former Olympic gold medalist, saying, "she became more than just my shooting coach, she became a longtime friend and somebody I know I can talk to if I ever need advice.”

On Wednesday morning, it was Lawson's turn to express her appreciation for the Celtics in an emotional social media post, writing, "These men have changed my life. I have loved my time with the Boston Celtics. Our players are authentic, intelligent, creative and passionate men. They motivated me every day to be my best for them."

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It’s been an emotional few days for me. And, while I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity in front of me at Duke University, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the team I’m leaving behind. These men have changed my life. I have loved my time with the Boston Celtics. Our players are authentic, intelligent, creative and passionate men. They motivated me every day to be my best for them. They surprised me last night by all wearing @DukeWBB T-shirts for an incredible show of support before I head to Durham. I cried. They would probably laugh and tell you I’ve cried a lot these last few days but I will tell you having relationships with players that move you to those kinds of emotions is the most meaningful pursuit one can have as a coach. I love them and I will miss them.

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Seeing the entire C's contingent decked out in Duke women's basketball shirts makes you realize the genuine affection and appreciation the players built for Lawson in such a short time — and it's no surprise that Jayson Tatum is front and center in the picture as Lawson heads to Durham.

Enes Kanter, always a consistent presence on social media, summed up the photo with a perfect one-word caption: FAMILY.

With Lawson leaving the Orlando bubble, the Celtics are replacing her on the traveling coaching staff with Brandon Bailey, who is also in his first season as a Celtics assistant.