Joe Mazzulla Explains Grant Williams’ Removal From Celtics Rotation Vs. Cavs

Williams didn't play a single minute Wednesday


March 1

BOSTON — Grant Williams didn’t play a role for the Boston Celtics in their 117-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Williams never left the bench area as Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla elected not to play the fourth-year big man. It was the first time Williams didn’t play due to a coach’s decision since May of 2021.

Mazzulla initially explained his reasoning for keeping Williams out of the rotation in one word.

“Matchups,” Mazzulla said.

It seemed odd that Mazzulla wouldn’t give the versatile Williams a shot with his ability to play against all sorts of lineups. But Mazzulla instead decided to go with Mike Muscala, who has played sparingly since the All-Star break including registering two DNP-CDs of his own, in place of Williams.

Mazzulla further elaborated on the decision to sit Williams, hoping to get more size on the floor to combat the supreme length the Cavaliers’ possess.

“Just matchups on the offensive end as far as spacing the floor and having rim protection,” Mazzulla said. “When Mike was in, we were able to play a different defensive lineup. Didn’t want to switch these guys at much in that second unit. “

Muscala was able to stretch the floor for the Celtics due to being a threat to hit from long range, but that’s all he offered in the win. The 6-foot-11 center didn’t score a single point, missing all three shots he took while grabbing just one rebound in 11 minutes.

Mazzulla thought he held up well, but understands Muscala is still going through a learning process with his new team, especially on the defensive end.

“He’s still getting used to our defensive system,” Mazzulla said. “We have a little bit of a complexity with defending fives on different matchups and whatnot. So, just getting used to the communication and the variables that go into our defense.”

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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