Rob Williams had simply made a highlight-reel play, however the Celtics middle didn’t appear to count on it.
Late within the second quarter of the Celtics’ eventual victory over the Spurs on Saturday evening, Williams pressured his teammates to leap out of their seats. Spurs rookie Malaki Branham’s 3-point try on the high of the important thing was blocked by Williams, who soared with ease to swat the shot away along with his proper hand. The ball landed within the backcourt, the place Williams beat Branham to it. In one movement, he took a dribble, made two steps and laid the ball in.
ROB WITH THE BLOCK AND THE FINISH 🔥 pic.twitter.com/xOnZIwXzfW
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 8, 2023
“I’m really surprised he shot the ball, man,” Williams advised reporters in San Antonio. “Most people, they know I’m coming to block that. He won’t try it again, for sure.”
If the remainder of the league wasn’t conscious but, Williams reminded them that he’s again.
It’s been almost one month since Williams returned from left knee surgical procedure that saved him out from the Celtics’ first 29 video games of the season. He’s performed in 9 video games, all off the bench, and hasn’t performed greater than 22 minutes in a single recreation. But his efficiency on Saturday strongly suggests he’s prepared for extra, and never simply due to that one play.
Williams was a power on each ends and particularly a monster defensively in Saturday’s win. He had 11 factors as he continued to be a risk above the rim. He’s missed simply six photographs since he returned. He got here down with 11 rebounds. He added three assists as a keen and efficient passer for his gifted teammates. And on protection, he completed with 4 blocks whereas altering numerous extra photographs and deterring a number of Spurs from difficult him.
Williams has, most of the time, been extraordinarily impactful since he got here again, an power booster and game-changer for the Celtics on each ends like he was throughout final season’s run to the NBA Finals. Most of all, he seems to be totally wholesome. That second-quarter play on Saturday confirmed he isn’t holding something again. So why isn’t he taking part in extra?
Jayson Tatum appears to be questioning the identical factor. When Williams was subbed out early within the fourth quarter on Saturday, he posed a query to the middle.
“I asked him, I’m like, ‘Yo, you still on (a) minutes restriction?’” Tatum advised reporters. “He was like, ‘Nah.’ I was like, ‘Well all right, get your ass back in the game.’”
Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire – when he took over briefly for interim head coach Joe Mazzulla final week – indicated that Williams is taking part in on a minutes restriction as he continues to construct his stamina and work in direction of full consolation on the ground. The Celtics are, understandably, managing considered one of their most essential gamers fastidiously, realizing larger video games are forward.
But finally, presumably, Williams will take the following step in his return, get a rise in taking part in time and rejoin the beginning lineup. There’s a robust case for it to occur now.
“Whether he starts or comes off the bench, I just want him on the floor, I want him healthy and I want to be on the floor with him at the same time as much as possible,” Tatum advised reporters. “I’m gonna start, so I would like Rob to start but whatever’s best for the team, he’ll do that. As much as I can be on the court with him as possible, I think makes us better.”
Williams has stated all the precise issues, and put the group first, since his return. He’s embracing any position he’s requested. But it sounds, and appears, like he’s prepared for extra.
“I’m here for whatever,” Williams stated. “Obviously they’re making an attempt to watch out and make sensible choices. When the blokes are on the market rolling, they’re rolling. Whether it’s 12 (minutes) or 30, I’m right here. …
“I enjoy playing the game,” Williams added. “Coming off the bench, I feel like I’ve been able to be decisive on when we need to insert energy, just watching everything. But like I said, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench, I’m here.”
Dating again to final season – when he led the NBA in defensive score – Williams’ impression has been simple. Bringing him off the bench has had its advantages, however his impression is maximized as a part of the beginning lineup alongside Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford – the group that led them to final season’s Finals.
Mazzulla stated Saturday that one factor the Celtics have to work on is their late-game execution with their double-big lineup that features Williams and Horford. The Celtics have slowly labored Williams again into that unit, and it’s clear they wish to play that five-man group extra typically. Sliding Williams again into the beginning lineup looks like the following logical, pure step.
One method or one other, the ‘Timelord’ seems to be like he’ll be getting extra time quickly. As his spectacular spotlight on Saturday confirmed, there’s nobody fairly like him.
“Rob is special,” Tatum stated. “There’s not many people in the league that can do the things he can do, affect the game the way that he can. As his stamina gets better and just plays more games, he’s going to make more plays like that, and we’re going to be a better team because of that.”