The long-awaited return of Robert Williams III lastly got here final evening, and there’s a lot to be enthusiastic about. Certain, his first recreation again would possibly’ve been barely overshadowed by an 8-point loss to a backside 5 group within the NBA who haven’t any enterprise even current on the identical courtroom because the C’s. However, it’s not about what Rob appears to be like like proper now, and even how the Celtics are at present utilizing him. As a substitute, it’s about what the Celtics may appear like as soon as he will get totally on top of things come playoff time.
Regardless of a good statline with an ideal capturing share, it wasn’t all sunshine and daisies for Rob final evening. For starters, his first shift on the courtroom was riddled with 3 fast fouls. He didn’t look as locked in on his weak facet assist as you want to him to be, and he didn’t have the identical lurking defensive really feel that we’re used to seeing; even he himself mentioned after the sport that he was “a step sluggish defensively” and is “getting again into rhythm.”
That is all comprehensible, although. Irrespective of how a lot you attempt to get again in form throughout observe or by scrimmages, there’s nothing fairly like getting your wind again by taking part in in a legit recreation, and that’s what Rob must do within the coming weeks to get again on top of things.
Right here, Williams isn’t taking part in with the depth required to make a game-saving comeback down the stretch. After making no effort to place a physique on his defensive project, Rob reacts late to the rebound and lets a far-inferior athlete, Markelle Fultz, sky over him for the straightforward offensive board. It’s an uncharacteristic play from Williams, however I’m going to chalk it as much as him getting his conditioning again and never being prepared but to place in a number of efforts on a given possession. That’ll come, although. We’ve seen it earlier than and I’d be shocked if we didn’t see it once more.
Extra of the identical
“He appeared good,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla mentioned of Robert Williams after the sport. “He appeared comfy on the market.”
Even a less-than-100% Time Lord confirmed flashes of the All-NBA Second Workforce defensive stopper that we all know and love.
Few gamers within the NBA could make this block. From primarily a standing place, Rob elevates within the lane and utterly eliminates Mo Bamba’s weak fall away try. He fairly frankly has no enterprise even contesting Mo’s shot, however that’s simply the sort of bodily instruments and defensive instincts that make Williams particular.
Rob additionally showcased a few of the athleticism that makes him such a singular offensive risk.
Certain, Luke Kornet and even Blake Griffin may’ve dunked this ball, however the truth that Marcus Good stored the ball on this dribble hand-off with the intent of getting Rob an open have a look at the rim reveals me that the Celtics will search for the lob extra aggressively now that Williams is again.
Regardless of having one of the best offense within the NBA, the Celtics have been missing an offensive rim risk. Extra than simply somebody who can end excessive above the rim and area the ground vertically, Rob is somebody whose rim gravity opens up driving lanes for his teammates. Each different Celtic will take pleasure in having Rob again as a result of opposing bigs will assume twice earlier than leaving Williams within the dunker spot, leading to much less resistance on the rim.
Right here, Bamba is a step sluggish to react to Good’s drive as a result of he’s afraid of giving up the straightforward lob to Williams. It ends in a straightforward end for Good on the rim.
After the sport, Mazzulla highlighted Rob’s offensive affect: “he actually helped our vertical spacing on the offensive finish.”
My favourite play
Imagine it or not, my favourite offensive play from Rob got here on a possession the place he didn’t even contact the ball.
The Celtics offense has change into suffering from slicing, off-ball motion, and backscreens, and it’s what has made them so troublesome to cease; good, well timed, and purposeful off-ball actions have led to open three level appears to be like for Celtics shooters (and so they have a number of these, by the best way). On this play, Williams units a really heady again display screen for Jaylen Brown as soon as he notices that each Franz Wagner and Bol Bol are centered on Tatum’s drive to the ring and are collapsing into the paint. Despite the fact that it didn’t lead to an open three this time, that sort of unselfish screening is what the Celtics’ particular sauce has been this yr. And, from the preliminary appears to be like of it, Robert Williams is barely going so as to add to that.