A lot of things went right for the Boston Celtics during their Wednesday night bout with the Charlotte Hornets.
The team had one of its hottest starts of the season, outscoring its opposition 39-19 during the opening frame (with 20 of those points coming from Jaylen Brown). And rookie Aaron Nesmith had a monster game as Boston was forced to cope with Marcus Smart’s unexpected absence, using the extra court time to score 15 points and grab nine boards while adding three steals and three blocks.
Meanwhile, Brown and his All-Star frontcourt mate, Jayson Tatum, pulled off a historic tandem scoring feat while leading the Cs to a much-needed 120-111 win.
Ultimately, it was a game with multiple heroes for the Beantowners. In spite of all the show-out efforts, though, Tatum arguably gave the most love during his media availability to a player who saw less than 17 minutes of court time and finished with just four points in the game.
In fact, Tatum broke from his typical, low-key approach to post-game media to boldly declare that this teammate was his “favorite person to play with.”
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Tatum Pays Rob Williams a Huge Compliment
Ahead of the Celtics’ win on Wednesday, big man Rob Williams had missed seven straight games with left knee soreness. It was an unfortunate turn of events for a player who had been excelling in his first real opportunity to play major minutes.
Nevertheless, the 23-year-old played relatively well in his first game back, grabbing nine boards, blocking two shots and nabbing two steals off the bench.
After the game, Tatum — who had just dropped 35 points — left little mystery about how highly he regards Williams.
“We for sure missed his presence — glad he was back,” Tatum said. “I love playing with Rob. Rob’s easily probably my favorite person to play with. Just the energy he brings, his presence, all the little things he does on the floor.”
Tatum endorsing Williams in such a way is undoubtedly a feather in the young big man’s cap. However, the fact that Tatum called him his “favorite” on the same night that he and Brown became the first Celtics teammates in 15 years to each score 35-plus points in the same game — not to mention Nesmith’s outing — definitely adds to the sentiment.
Williams’ Impact Continues to Be Massive
Since the trade deadline, Williams has put up 9.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.0 blocks per game. He has also connected on 69.1% of his shot attempts and boasted a team-best assist ratio of 19.3.
Over that span, the Cs have outscored opponents by 8.5 points per 100 possessions when he has been on the floor. That number is the best mark on the team among those logging at least 200 minutes since March 26.
Although Tristan Thompson got the start at center in Williams’ first game back, the latter could be Boston’s best pivot option during postseason play. Thompson’s wealth of playoff experience will definitely play a factor in Celtics coach Brad Stevens lineup decisions, but Williams’ ability to impact the action in a variety of ways may win out.
Even if one hoops pundit did just call him a weak link.