Sporting a cumbersome knee brace round his left knee and being a person of few phrases, you wouldn’t assume that Robert Williams was such an integral a part of the Boston Celtics at their greatest. His stat line of 4 factors, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and three blocks belie his overwhelming affect in a 120-95 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday evening. His humble postgame interview doesn’t precisely scream, “that is an important participant on the crew”:
And but after two video games and extra so, three weeks of uninspired ball, it’s arduous to not assume that Williams just isn’t at the least the lacking hyperlink between this Celtics crew being good and being a reputable contender.
“Rob is unbelievable. Rob is the important thing,” Jaylen Brown stated after Williams logged simply over fifteen minutes in his second recreation again from a strained hamstring. “We gotta maintain Rob wholesome, maintain his mindset sturdy, maintain discovering him when he will get to the basket. He’s such an impactful participant on each ends of the ground. Anytime he’s on the market, he makes our crew so much higher.”
A really small pattern dimension in fact, however Williams’ affect is simple. The Kings and Pacers have top-10 offenses because the All-Star break and the Celtics crushed them each in blowout style in back-to-back video games.
For Boston, Williams modifications the whole geometry of the court docket when he’s on the ground. As a vertical house within the offense, he’s pulling the bigs within the paint and diversifying the Celtics’ three-point heavy strategy. With defenses having to account for the springy middle, there’s extra space and air to cowl. Just a few weeks in the past, head coach Joe Mazzulla lamented that not all layups are simple and that generally, even a not-so-open three is a greater shot; with Williams lurking across the restricted space, drivers can discover him fairly than placing up a contested two.
Nevertheless, Williams is most felt on protection. The Second Crew All-Protection middle nonetheless doesn’t have his legs beneath him but, however he’s already wreaking havoc.
“His rim safety,” Mazzulla stated of the place Williams is most felt. “One of many issues he bought higher at within the second half was his defensive presence, recognizing who he was guarding, and having the ability to assist early. When he’s there, he brings that presence on the rim. He was capable of assistance on drives.”
Final season, one of many largest changes that flipped the season for C’s was utilizing Williams as a kind of free security that would freelance away from the ball. If an offense might penetrate Boston’s switching perimeter protection, they’d must be cautious of the Time Lord’s 7’6” wingspan and 40” vertical.
“Basically like a security internet, understanding that you simply bought him defending the rim, blocking photographs, altering photographs, deterring guys away from attacking. He helps us out so much in that means,” Jayson Tatum stated.
Schematically, it’s apparent what Williams brings to the sport. Culturally and mentally, he means much more.
“When you’ve gotten a man like that, it clearly jolts your defensive pleasure to be slightly bit extra aggressive,” Mazzulla stated. “You simply really feel that. Rob simply has an intangible the place guys simply really feel protected due to his capability to do this. It undoubtedly ups our guys’ depth defensively.”
“It’s an pleasure due to the kind of particular person Rob is and the kind of participant that he’s,” Mazzulla added.