One major change the Boston Celtics made in Game 2 was playing Grant Williams. He didn't play a single second in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals, but played 26 minutes on Friday night. In that time, Williams scored nine points, grabbed two rebounds and dished out two assists. That production isn't what his performance in this game is going to be remembered for, though. Instead, he's catching some major flak for and aggravating Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter.
Grant talked trash to Butler after knocking down a 3-pointer, and then the two had to be separated on the other side of the floor after Butler scored on Williams and was fouled in the process.
Following Williams' 3-pointer, which put Boston up 96-87, the Heat outscored the Celtics 24-9 the rest of the way, with nine of those points scored by Butler himself. After the game, Williams' decision to provoke Butler was a major talking point, and the Celtics forward explained his side of the story and why he isn't built to back down.
"I think he said something and I just responded," Williams said. "I'm a competitor, and I'm going to battle. He got the best of me tonight, and at the end of the day, it's out of respect, because I'm not going to run away from it. My mom always taught me, and my dad as well, you get your ass kicked and you don't come back home until you come battle again. You either come back before you die or you come back and get a win, and I'm not willing to die in this finals. I'm ready to f---ing get a win. I'm ready to come back and come into Game 3 with a better mentality, and I know this team is as well.
"So at the end of the day, tonight is tonight. We've got to focus in and let this shit hurt, but at the end of the day, we've got to come in tomorrow and really focus on what's next."
Williams showed some real accountability by admitting that providing Butler with some added fuel for the fire probably wasn't his best idea, but he also added that he would have expected Butler to take over down the stretch of the game even without Williams' prodding, as that has been Butler's M.O. throughout the playoffs.
"No matter if I lit him up tonight or not, he is going to do that," Williams said. "For me, it's a matter of understanding, yeah, sure, you did 'poke a bear.' And how are you going to respond? Because for me, he made some tough shots. It's a battle. And I am going to keep battling. He's going to have to make every single tough shot the rest of the series. I am not going to turn and look otherwise, because I respect him as a motherf---ing player."
The respect between the two players is mutual, but Butler admitted that late exchange with Williams did indeed provide him with some extra motivation down the stretch of the game.
"Yes, it did," Butler said. "But that's just competition at its finest. He hit a big shot, started talking to me. I like that. I'm all for that. It makes me key in a lot more. It pushes that will that I have to win a lot more. It makes me smile. It does.
"When people talk to me, I'm like, OK, I know I'm a decent player, if you want to talk to me out of everybody that you can talk to. But it's just competition. I do respect him, though. He's a big part of what they try to do. He switches. He can shoot the ball. I just don't know if I'm the best person to talk to."
Moving forward in the series, Williams might want to think twice before providing Butler with any extra ammo to use against the Celtics. Game 3 is Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. ET in Miami.