As such, the Celtics will need to get creative with their frontcourt rotations, as they look to fill Williams’ minutes with players who can provide floor spacing on offense and switchability on the defensive end. When talking to NBC Sports Boston on October 27, Mazzulla discussed the different options he has available as he looks to replace Williams’ impact on the court.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to see different things, use our depth, and see how we can adjust to their size. But, at the same time, we’ve got to focus on our strengths, we have speed, we have skill, and we have a lot of space. It’s a good challenge for us, a good opportunity for our depth to kind of reinvent ourselves a little bit,” Mazzulla said.
Boston can call upon Sam Hauser, Blake Griffin, Al Horford, and Mfiondu Kabengele to fill their power forward spot at times tonight, whereas Noah Vonleh is more of a quintessential big man and would likely struggle if asked to guard the perimeter. Hopefully, Hauser is the man who gets his number called, as his three-point shooting and improved defense make him the logical choice to absorb the lion’s share of Williams’ minutes against the Cavaliers.
Questions Raised over Mazzulla’s Rotations
In a recent article from Heavy Sports Insider, Steve Bulpett, a source close to the Celtics situation noted there have been some questions raised over how Mazzulla is handling his rotations to begin this season.
“The thing that would be concerning to me is just that he’s kind of got the Tom Thibodeau rotation thing going right now, and it’s pretty early in the year to be eliminating some guys…I’ve heard he was that way in training camp, and a lot of that was attributed to the fact he wanted to build trust with the starters that he knew what he was doing and build relationships with them.
So that part makes sense. But it’s a long year. You’re probably going to need a little bit of Payton Pritchard and a little bit of Sam Hauser and whoever else you have. I’m going to be interested to see how that gets handled,” The source told Bulpett.
With Williams on the sidelines for the Cavaliers game, Mazzulla’s hand has now been forced, so it will be interesting to see who he trusts to fill the fourth-year forward’s minutes.
Williams Accepts His Suspension
On October 27, Williams spoke to the media for the first time since his suspension was made official by the NBA. During the media availability, the Tennessee native was vocal in his acceptance of the disciplinary actions the league had taken following his ejection against the Chicago Bulls on October 24.
“Disappointed for sure. I was more so disappointed about missing the game. It’s definitely one of those things which you never want to let your team down, and I felt like I did…When it comes to punishment, it’s just for sure. I made a mistake. So for me, it’s something I probably won’t challenge. Especially the fact that one, it’s a female referee, and two, it’s not something that we want our players to be doing in the league. So no matter if it was inadvertent or not, I gotta be better,” Williams said.
Williams will return to Boston’s rotation for their October 30 game against the Washington Wizards, assuming there’s no internal disciplinary action taken against him. But for now, Mazzulla will need to get creative in his rotations and minutes distribution as the Celtics look to cover for the suspended forward against an impressive Cavaliers team.