BOSTON — Life as a professional basketball player has required Matt Williams Jr. to make a few adjustments.
The on-court adjustments were expected. But it’s the off-court adjustments that sent the Florida native shopping for winter gear.
“Sioux Falls is different, especially being from Florida,” Williams said. “It’s cold weather, not as much to do, just focus on basketball. So it’s been OK. … It’s not the first time I’ve seen snow. This is my first time actually living in it, on a day-to-day basis. I’ve got some snow boots and everything.”
Williams, one of Miami’s two players on a two-way contract, spent the first week of the season with the Heat before being sent to the organization’s G League developmental affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. But with Miami in need of some healthy bodies due to a long list of injuries, Williams joined the Heat for Wednesday’s game against the Celtics at TD Garden.
The Heat will have both of their two-way contract players on their roster in Boston — Derrick Walton Jr. and Williams. Miami will be without Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise), James Johnson (right ankle bursitis), Justise Winslow (strained left knee), Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and Okaro White (left foot surgery) against the Celtics, and Goran Dragic is doubtful with a sore left elbow.
If Dragic does not play against Boston, the Heat will have just 10 healthy players available against the Celtics. Miami played with nine healthy players in its loss to Atlanta on Monday.
“Well, it’s good to have extra bodies right here,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Matt, our view on him is this year is about development. So it’s developing as a professional, being reliable, learning how to be a two-way player. Not a two-way contract, but a two-way player, to defend and learn how to maximize his shooting ability in the context of a team.”
Williams, a 6-foot-5 guard, has averaged 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists while shooting 33.8 percent from the field and 33.9 percent from 3-point range in 16 games (all starts) with the Skyforce this season. His 41 made 3-pointers this season are the second most on the team.
“Similar to the Heat,” Williams said of the Skyforce’s system. “Same concepts. Same plays. Same things. Everything is the same, just up there you get more reps, you get a lot more playing time up there and just you’re up there pretty much grooming yourself.”
Williams, who is limited to 45 days in the NBA by his two-way contract, appeared in six preseason games for the Heat, making four of his 13 3-point shot attempts. But the undrafted Central Florida product is still waiting to make his NBA regular-season debut.
“There was a little bit of excitement, but at the same time I understand it’s a part of my contract,” Williams said of getting the call to join the Heat. “So I just roll with the flow and I’m glad to be back.
“My mindset is whether I play or not, just to go in and make sure I encourage the guys and make sure when my name is called be ready to produce.”