Grant Williams had a chance to give the Boston Celtics the win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday with some late free throws, but some well-timed trash talk from Donovan Mitchell got in his head.
Williams was fouled with less than a second left and went to the free-throw line with the game tied. Mitchell had a talk with Williams before the crunch-time shots and the Celtics forward was caught saying he’d make both of them. Instead, he missed both, sending the game to overtime, with the Cavs coming out victorious 118-114.
The trash talk from Mitchell wasn’t anything too brutal. The Cavs star told reporters after the game that he told Williams he should miss one free throw so the two would have something to talk about on a Players Association call on Thursday. They both serve on the Board of Player Representatives.
“He gave us both, but I didn’t box out Marcus Smart for the tip and that’s what I’m thinking about,” Mitchell said. “Thank God he missed ’em and we got the win.”
Donovan Mitchell Credits Lamar Stevens for Win
Mitchell did more than a little smack talk to help seal the victory. The All-Star guard netted 40 points in the victory, including a thunderous dunk in overtime. But he was quick to spread the love after the victory, most notably to Lamar Stevens, who stepped up late with a gritty effort.
“When Lamar speaks, you listen,” Mitchell said. “That’s something you earn. I’ve only been here a few months, but you can tell as a locker room, as a group of guys, we trust in him, in his voice, his leadership. Not only did he do it by voice, but by example. When he’s out there competing, fighting, screaming, getting buckets, and also getting stops, you’ve gotta be out there doing the same thing.”
Stevens’ playing time has been inconsistent but he was ready when his number was called against the Celtics. He notched eight points and eight rebounds, also providing a hounding defensive effort with some big fourth-quarter minutes. Stevens’ effort earned him the Cavs’ Junkyard Dog chain for a second consecutive game.
“Lamar is a dog. He is willing to scrap and fight. He’s not afraid of the moment. We needed some physical toughness to match the Celtics,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We needed someone who would just out-work the man in front of him and someone who could inspire his teammates to do the same. There’s no way we win that game without Lamar.”
Cavs Pick Up Valuable Win Against Celtics
The Cavs trailed by 14 points entering the fourth quarter but managed to turn things around to pick up a valuable win against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. The victory moved the Cavs to 41-26 with 15 games left, which gives them a leg up as they look to earn home court for the first round.
“I think that’s something that’s sought after a lot in this league,” Cleveland big man Jarrett Allen said of having home-court advantage in the postseason. “I’ve never had it, so I don’t know how important it is, but from what I hear, everybody is clamoring over it. I think it’s important.”
The Celtics were shorthanded, which made the game even more of a must-win situation for Cleveland. Boston played a double-overtime thriller against the Knicks on Sunday and were without Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams and Al Horford.