3. Stud - Grant Williams
When the Dallas Mavericks pulled off a sign-and-trade for Grant Williams over the summer, they knew his Eastern Conference Playoff experience would come in handy at some point. Williams had arguably the best game of his career versus the Bucks when he scored 27 points and made seven 3-pointers in the Celtics' game seven victory in the 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Williams continued to have the Bucks number as a member of the Dallas Mavericks last night as well, as he accumulated 14 points and seven rebounds on five of 10 shooting from the field. Williams was the primary defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo, as he has notoriously been a pretty stout defender against him.
Williams did a good job of using his strength against Antetokounmpo to force him in to some tough attempts and passes when he was operating inside the parameters of the three-point line, but Williams still fell victim to Antetokounmpo plenty of times as he just didn’t have the athleticism to keep up with the “Greek Freak” on the perimeter at times.
Mavericks rookie center Dereck Lively II was matched up with Antetokounmpo plenty of times and bared the same result, as Antetokounmpo finished with 40 points on 18 of 26 shooting efficiency from the field. However, the referees were noticeably inconsistent with some fouls that were called against Dallas and subsequently not called for them on the other end, so they didn’t make things any easier for Williams in regard to defending Antetokounmpo.
Williams still missed some key shots late in the game, but he’s making all the right plays on offense and is starting to establish himself as a decent rebounding presence as of late. He’s showing a little more versatility on offense than expected and will need to continue to be a pillar of consistency in Dallas, as he’s arguably been the most important role player on the team because of his 3-and-D ability.