Moments after tip-off between the Celtics and Nets Wednesday night, Robert Williams knew he wouldn’t be sitting on Brad Stevens’ bench for long. He was minutes away from making his first regular-season appearance since March.
Williams was told that he would be receiving early minutes from Stevens, who in retrospect, says his timing of the news could have been handled better.
“It’s probably not fair to him because I didn’t tell him until he was walking onto the bus that he’ll probably go in early,” Stevens admitted following the Celtics’ 149-115 win. The short notice may have been the reason behind the slow start from the second-year center.
After checking in, Williams nearly committed a turnover on one end and seemed rather anxious on the other.
“Starting off, really, it was a lot of swipes when I should have been going straight up; contesting shots,” Williams said. “You know, just getting out there, getting a feel for it, getting back to my defensive work I’ve been working on.”
It didn’t take long for Williams to adjust; he turned in a career-best performance for the Kemba Walker-less Celtics. Williams scored a career-high with 18 points on perfect 7-of-7 attempts along with five rebounds and three blocks.
Should Williams Crack Stevens’ Rotation?
The Celtics’ win over the Nets pulls them to an even .500 record (2-2) at the halfway mark of the NBA‘s seeding games. Williams’ production on both ends of the floor is the kind of consistency Stevens’ second unit has been lacking.
It was the kind an effort that came to no avail when the Celtics fell behind early and often against the Heat Sunday in a 112-106 loss or when Boston squandered its 24-point lead against the Blazers Sunday. Stevens recognized the difference in his second unit.
“The energy overall was good for our whole team, thought we came out and played the right way,” Stevens said. “I thought the second unit, obviously, did a lot of good things. Romeo’s defense was excellent. Rob (Williams) obviously gave us a lot once he got settled in defensively and then offensively he gave us a lot at the rim all day on down the line.”
Stevens, who spent most of the night divvying minutes at the center position almost exclusively to Williams (18:47) and Daniel Theis (21:37), says he’s encouraged by the Celtics’ play in stretches but says there’s still a lot to be desired.
Stevens Wants Celtics to be ‘Better at Both Ends’
“I think we’ve had moments of playing good basketball, not enough throughout the course of games so we talked about that in pretty good detail this morning,” Stevens said. “Wanted to play better on both ends, you know. I thought we were stagnant and poor against the zone (defense) Tuesday night. When they went zone today I thought they were purposeful; made the right reads, played with pace and all that other stuff so I thought there were a lot of encouraging things. But we got to keep going with it and build off of it on both ends.”
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