The Boston Celtics have been one of the NBA’s surprises thus far this season, as they hold down the second best record in the Eastern Conference at 17-5 following yet another win on Monday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Boston is getting bounceback seasons from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, while Kemba Walker has seamlessly slid into the point guard role. Marcus Smart is playing at a DPOY caliber and Gordon Hayward, who returned on Monday night from a hand injury, was off to a hot start before surgery. As you go down the roster you’ll just generally find a lot of players having excellent seasons. When everything is going right for so many, you can handle a rough start from a few of your lesser role players, as has been the case offensively for rookie Grant Williams.
The young forward out of Tennessee had appeared in 20 games entering Monday night and was 0-for-25 from three-point range, struggling to find his shooting touch to open his NBA career. Given that the Celtics were cruising even with his shooting struggles, it had become something of a running joke in the locker room as his teammates ribbed the rookie with various nicknames poking fun at his 0fer streak.
On Monday night, Williams finally got a three to drop to the delight of his teammates and after the game Jaylen Brown offered some insight into one of the nicknames they’d given Williams during his slump — that happens to take a jab at their divisional rival in Philly, via Tom Westerholm of MassLive.
“Yeah we were calling him Ben Simmons for the longest,” Brown said. “But he knocked one down, and Ben knocked one down too, so shout out to both of those guys.”
Simmons famously hadn’t made any three-pointers in his NBA career until this season, where he’s made two and now has a challenge from his head coach to shoot one per game the rest of the season. Celtics fans in particular have gotten after Simmons for his lack of shooting, so it’s not a surprise the team itself would poke fun at that as well. The two teams will meet on Thursday night in Boston, so those comments will surely make their way to the Sixers locker room before then and we’ll see what, if any, response they have.