Celtics Star Gushes Over Game-Saving Timelord: ‘He’s Our Security Blanket’

Robert Williams, Boston Celtics

Getty Robert Williams of the Boston Celtics.

Robert Williams returned to the Boston Celtics starting line-up in their game against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 1st, after missing the team’s last three games due to injury.

Williams, who has found himself thrust into the starting center role this season, had last played for the Celtics in their clash against the Houston Rockets on November 22nd, a game that is sandwiched in between two three-game absences.

However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Celtics are a better unit when Williams is in the rotation – both offensively and defensively. Against the 76ers, Williams provided the Celtics with 10 points, three blocks, and four rebounds on five-of-seven shooting from the field per Basketball-Reference.

The Lousiana native’s ability to stretch the floor with his verticality has been a pick-and-roll threat the Celtics have sorely missed in recent weeks, especially Marcus Smart, who wasted no time in throwing a lob for Williams in the opening moments of the game.

Of course, Williams’ jumping ability has also been missed on the defensive end, mainly because opposing players are forced to alter their shot when attacking the fourth-year big-man. According to NBA Stats, Williams contested 11 of the 76ers shots and garnered two deflections as he made his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor.


Having Williams Available ‘Makes All the Difference’

When speaking to the media following the Celtics victory over the 76ers, Jayson Tatum discussed the impact of having Williams back on the floor.

“It makes all the difference on the defensive end. Even offensively, you know, one of the best passers. He’s like that safety net. If you get beat, you trust that Rob’s gonna, if not block it, alter the shot with his ability. So, you just got that security blanket with Rob back there in the paint,” Tatum said.


Jayson Tatum: "I just want to contribute and help us win" | Celtics vs 76ersBOSTON, MA — Jayson Tatum was interviewed following Boston's 88-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Although his shooting is still not up to his standards, Tatum pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds in Boston's win. "I just want to contribute and help us win," said Tatum. "Rob gets mad at me sometimes because he feels…2021-12-02T04:46:59Z

From a statistical standpoint, Williams isn’t dominating in any specific category, primarily due to the number of games he’s missed, but his impact is clearly demonstrated when watching him play.

Furthermore, Williams is ranked third in points differential for the Celtics, with the team 11.2 points better per 100 possessions than the big man in the rotation. When guarded by the Timelord, opposing players are shooting 0.5% worse than their usual effective field-goal rate, per Cleaning The Glass.


Williams Got The Game-Winning Block

With the Celtics up by 1, and the seconds ticking down on the game clock, the 76ers found a shooter in the strong-side corner. Usually, a team would feel pretty good about getting a semi-open jumper from the corner three to close out a game, but when the defender who’s closing out on you is Williams, you might want to rethink your strategy.

One of Williams’ most impactful skills is his mobility – how he can guard the perimeter, the paint, and chase guys around the floor on defense. Watching this clip, you can see how Williams starts the possession by protecting the perimeter before following his man over to the corner and getting the game-winning block.

We all know how impactful Williams can be when he’s on the floor, yet the most crucial question surrounding his viability as the team’s long-term center is still his health. Or, to put it better, his ability to remain healthy while shouldering starters minutes.

The Celtics must feel confident that Williams can remain healthy enough to contribute to long-term success, inking him to a four-year $54 million contract extension during the off-season.

When healthy, Williams has been in good form for the Celtics, contributing 9.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game in 29.9 minutes of play.

 


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