The Celtics’ day off Thursday came at the perfect time for two players with a vested interest in the NCAA Tournament, even if the final results left them feeling down.
Forwards Grant Williams and Sam Hauser traveled to New York to attend the regional semifinal doubleheader at Madison Square Garden in which Florida Atlantic defeated No. 4 Tennessee and Kansas State scored an overtime win over Michigan State.
Williams is a Tennessee alumnus and Hauser’s younger brother, Joey, was a Michigan State starting forward.
“It was a great moment to be there,” Williams said. “I just wish it was a different outcome for both teams.”
The Volunteers held a 7-point halftime lead over the Owls, but Williams said his father, Gilbert, was uneasy about the game’s path.
“Sometimes, you just beat yourselves,” Williams said. “FAU did an amazing job of continuing to play disciplined. They got the open shots. They got open 3s and started knocking them down. In the first half they weren’t making them and my dad said at halftime that we’re going to lose the game, because we had an opportunity to go up by 15 and were only up by 7.”
Williams and Hauser took a car service to New York together and traveled back to Boston separately since Tennessee’s game ended about three hours after Michigan State finished up.
“On the way there we mostly just slept,” Williams said. “But we made it work.”
Nesmith wings it in Indy
When former Celtics wing Aaron Nesmith played for Vanderbilt, the offense was essentially built around him. That has not been the case in the NBA and Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said Nesmith has done a good job of adapting to his surroundings this season.
“Our style is different, and really the style of the NBA game is quite a bit different from what he played in college,” Carlisle said Friday of Nesmith, who was traded to the Pacers last summer in the deal that brought guard Malcolm Brogdon to Boston, ahead of the Celtics’ 120-95 win at TD Garden. “It’s more of a free-flowing read-and-react type game, and he needed to get accustomed to shots coming in unpredictable times.
“Really as an athlete that should be the best possible thing, because then you’re a reactor and not having to over-process things at all. As he’s continued to get a better and better feel for that, his game keeps going up.”
Nesmith entered the game against the team that drafted him 14th overall in 2020 averaging 10 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 35.3 percent from the 3-point line. He started and scored 3 points (0 for 2 on 3-pointers) to go with 2 rebounds in 20 minutes in the Pacers’ 120-95 loss.
Brogdon joins Pritchard on bench
Celtics point guard Payton Pritchard missed his eighth consecutive game due to heel pain. Brogdon was a late scratch because of lower back soreness … The Celtics held a moment of silence prior to the game for Knicks legend Willis Reed, who died Tuesday at the age of 80.
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.