Coach Sounds Off on Celtics’ Success Without Robert Williams: ‘It’s Scary’

Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum

Getty Derrick White #9, Jaylen Brown #7, Jayson Tatum #0, Al Horford #42 and Marcus Smart #36, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics have a league-best record of 17-4 and have won 13 out of their last 14 games. They’ve only lost to two teams since the season started – the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls – and last year’s starting center Robert Williams III is expected to return merely weeks from now.

In light of their success without Williams, an Eastern Conference coach spoke with Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney about how frightening the Celtics have been.

“It is a scary thing, isn’t it, that they are where they are even without (Robert) Williams in there?” the exec asked Deveney.

The coach praised the Celtics for how they’ve handled their rotations without Williams while stating that when he returns, they’ll go back to last year’s starting lineup.

“They have done a good job of mixing in Grant Williams and Derrick White, getting rest for guys early in the year. They went to the Finals with last year’s starting five, and it is hard to imagine they won’t go back to that, with Al (Horford) and Rob up front, (Marcus) Smart as the point guard, and of course Jaylen (Brown) and (Jayson) Tatum.”

Coach Says Celtics’ Bench Will Be Scary

When Williams comes back, the coach who spoke to Deveney expects the Celtics to go back to last year’s starting lineup. Doing so will mean that those who have started in Williams’ place – Derrick White and Grant Williams – will play off the bench.

With those two in the Celtics’ second unit, the coach explained to Deveney why even the Celtics’ second unit will scare teams when Williams is presumably inserted back into the starting five.

“So, the bench then has Grant coming in, it has White coming in with (Malcolm) Brogdon, and then (Sam) Hauser, (Payton) Pritchard, and Luke Kornet as the wild cards. That is scary when you think about the starting five they have, and then they’re bringing that off the bench.”

The Celtics’ bench has the second-highest net rating in the NBA among other benches, being plus-4.4 points per 100 possessions when they take the floor. They are behind only the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose bench is plus-5.3 points per 100 possessions when they take the floor.

Robert Williams Expected Back By Christmas

On November 23, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed on NBA Countdown that the Celtics expect Williams to make his 2022-23 season debut by Christmas.

“Robert Williams, who had surgery on his left knee two months ago today. His agent, Kevin Bradbury, told me tonight that he expects Robert Williams will be back by Christmas. That gives him another month here, he’s progressing well on his rehab. And listen, this is a player who had two surgeries in the last calendar year. They certainly want to take their time. Even without him, this is a team with the best record in the NBA, but they expect him to be back by Christmas,” Wojnarowski said.

Woj: Robert Williams III back by Christmas | NBA CountdownAdrian Wojnarowski joins NBA Countdown to give an update on Robert Williams III's health. ✔️Subscribe to ESPN+ ✔️ Get the ESPN App: ✔️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: ✔️ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: ✔️ Watch ESPN on YouTube TV:

Williams has been recovering from surgery on his knee since before training camp started. Should Williams return by then, he will have made it back in time for the Celtics’ first rematch against the Milwaukee Bucks since defeating them in the 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

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