Celtics coach Ime Udoka said that he and forward Grant Williams “butted heads” a bit during the team’s loss to the Heat on Wednesday, and since Udoka felt badly about his role in the little spat he extended an olive branch on Friday morning by inviting Williams to be part of his April Fools’ prank.
During the team’s shootaround, Udoka whispered to Williams that they should start a fake argument in front of the team. It escalated quickly.
“Grant likes to talk back, so it wasn’t unexpected that he had something to say back, but we started chirping, walked toward each other,” Udoka said. “I expected a teammate or two or a coach to get in the middle, and that would have kind of turned it up from there, but nobody got in the way. So we kept going and as people started to think it was very serious, we hugged and yelled, ‘April Fools!’ and fooled the whole gym. So, it was crazy.”
Udoka said that during the argument he noticed the looks of concern on the faces of Robert Williams and Jayson Tatum. He said he was slightly surprised that no one tried to break up the fight, but he eventually figured out why they stood down.
“I heard later, three or four players said they wanted to see Grant get his [butt] kicked,” Udoka quipped.
Bigger role for Theis
Celtics center Daniel Theis’s role has been expanded since Robert Williams underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus. In the first two games since Williams’s injury, Theis is averaging 14 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
He understands that he cannot duplicate Williams’s play, but he can impact the game in his own way.
“In general, nobody does what Rob does,” Theis said. “His rim protection, playing way off the rim helps the whole team, just in case there’s a mistake, having him as a rim protector right behind you is different. I don’t think there’s anybody in the league who can do the things he does. For us as a team, it’s stepping up for everybody. Obviously Rob is missing in the defensive and offensive end with his rebounding and his lobs, but for the team we just have to step up, everybody, and try to be the same. Being protective back there, being vocal, keep the defense together.”
Lofty goals for Tatum
When Tatum appeared on Warriors forward Draymond Green’s podcast on Thursday, Green told Tatum that he should be the MVP next season. Udoka said he encourages Tatum to have such lofty goals.
“JT is a guy that I’m not worried about stat-chasing or doing anything a specific way,” Udoka said. “He’s playing the right way. And some things I’ve said about him is he should strive for 10 to 15 triple-doubles. That’s an area he’s grown in and scoring comes naturally, but all the other things that he’s really improved on, there’s no reason not to shoot and aim that high.”… Celtics guard Nik Stauskas missed Friday’s game because of a sprained ankle.