Somehow, there’s a worse way to lose a game than missing two free throws in a tied game at the end of regulation. As Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams learned, you could have been trash-talked before he made a miss.
A road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday was already tough enough for Boston, who have lost three of their last four games and lead by 15 points each in the second and third quarters. The Cavaliers fell by double digits late with 4:15 left in the fourth, but rallied to tie the game at 109-109 in the final seconds.
The Celtics had the ball with 5.8 seconds left after two free throws from Donovan Mitchell. A Payton Pritchard corner kick fell to Williams, who was fouled with 0.8 seconds left.
That set up a pair of potential game-winning free throws for Williams, who has been an 86.4% free-throw shooter over the past two seasons. It should have been the game over for Boston, and Williams knew it, sounding a lot like he was saying “I’ll get them both” to Mitchell:
Maybe you can see where this is going. Williams didn’t make them both.
To their credit, the Cavaliers tried everything they could to beat Williams on the ice after missing a free throw for the first time. But at the end of the day, a player like Williams is expected to shoot at least once, rather than miss both and send the game into overtime:
The extra period didn’t go quite as well for the Celtics either, especially when Mitchell threw a massive dunk at the halfway point. Celtics lost 118-114.
Mitchell confirmed to reporters After the game Williams said he would throw two free throws. Mitchell too He said the statement was the product of some petty talk on his part:
You just mentally try to mess with him and see what happens. I have no doubt that if Grant were in that position again tomorrow or the next day, he’d make two free throws. He’s a good player, just trying to find a way to get in his head a little bit.
Williams finished the game with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting on four rebounds. Those free throw attempts were his only trip to the nightline. Meanwhile, Mitchell recorded 40 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, his third 40-point game of the season against the Celtics.
The Celtics’ 45-21 team now sits two games short of the first-place Milwaukee Bucks, who took a heavy loss of their own to end their 16-game winning streak. The Cavaliers sit 4.5 games behind them at 41-26.
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