Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams has been suspended one game without pay for “recklessly making contact with and directing inappropriate language” toward a game official that led to his ejection in Monday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, the NBA announced on Wednesday.

Williams will serve his suspension in the Celtics’ next game on Friday against the Cavaliers in Boston.

Williams was ejected with 8:58 left in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss when he was whistled for a blocking foul while defending Zach LaVine. A frustrated Williams – who had moments before been called for a questionable illegal screen – quickly got up to his feet and made contact with official Cheryl Flores, who immediately ejected him.

Williams also had a few choice words as he exited the court.

Marc Davis, the crew chief of Monday’s game, said in a pool report that Williams’ contact with the official was intentional.

“After it is correctly judged a blocking foul on Williams, he jumps up and approaches official (Cheryl) Flores and makes intentional physical contact with her and he is ejected as per rule for this sportsmanship act,” Davis said.


DEFENSIVE ISSUES: The Celtics are missing a key starter and still adjusting to a new interim coach, but their defense was still expected to be one of the best in the league. Boston finished with the No. 1 defensive rating last season, relying on a unique scheme and stout players who were more than willing to defend consistently.

But the early defensive returns this season have been lackluster. Those struggles culminated in the 120-102 loss to the Bulls on Monday, their first loss of the season and the second straight game where the Celtics gave up 120 points as they were also scored on consistently against the Magic.

“We’re just a step slow,” Malcolm Brogdon said. “Not as physical as we have been in the previous three games. But also there was some slippage in the Orlando game, it was just a game that we were just more talented, we were able to pull it out. But having the slippage, and then it really showed in Chicago. So, we have to get back to being physical — especially on switches and just over-communicating like we have been previously.”

It’s still only four games into in the season, but the Celtics currently rank 24th in the league with a 117.0 defensive rating. Their 118.3 offensive rating, though, does rank third in the NBA. The Celtics have been able to overwhelm their opponents offensively in the early going, but the defense hasn’t been up to par in comparison.

Of course, the Celtics aren’t quite whole yet. Robert Williams III was a crucial piece of their double big starting lineup last season, but he isn’t expected back for at least another couple months following knee surgery. The Celtics are also adjusting to interim coach Joe Mazzulla. Even last season’s Boston team started slow defensively before picking it up down the stretch.

“Defense is something that you have to commit to every day, every game,” Mazzulla said. “When you have moments of (relaxing), you kind of have inconsistency. So it’s all about the fundamentals. We all know what we need to do. And I think our guys did a great job today kind of focusing on that.”


The Celtics have a formidable test Friday at TD Garden against the Cavaliers. The visitors boast a remade backcourt led by Donovan Mitchell. Darius Garland is also an important player and was an All-Star last season, but he’s been out because of an eye injury he suffered in Cleveland’s season opener.

Cleveland has played some great ball early, sliding in with the fifth-best offensive rating. Mitchell has averaged an impressive 33.3 points and 7.0 assists per game early on. He’s picked up the offensive slack while guys like Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are two big men who will present challenges for the smaller Celtics.

But the Celtics do have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart, and the guard’s still a crucial part of the defensive equation. But there’s a reason the Celtics were so successful defensively last season: They have so many capable defenders. That also results in a learning curve for some of the new guys. But the Celtics said they hope they can get back to leaning on the defensive identity they built last season.

“Boston definitely plays completely different scheme than the rest of the league because of the way the team is constructed,” Brogdon said. “Everybody can guard. Everybody can guard multiple positions 1-5 so you’re switching a lot on and off the ball, so for me, it’s definitely an adjustment.”

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