Celtics center Daniel Theis missed Tuesday’s preseason opener against the 76ers in Philadelphia because of back soreness, and Tristan Thompson remains sidelined with a sore hamstring. So third-year big man Robert Williams drew the start for Boston.
The trio should give Boston good depth in the interior this season, with all three offering unique skill sets.
“We have a deep roster,” Theis said. “We have so many guys who can play. We need it for a long season, especially the shortened time period for 72 games, we need a lot of guys. We need a lot of bodies to throw out there.
“Tristan is going to be a good help for us. He’s one of the best rebounders in the NBA. He’s athletic, so probably would say he needs a little bit of time as soon as he can practice with us to find a rhythm, to find the way we play. Also with Rob and Tacko [Fall], we need those guys down the stretch in our season. Rob, he’s a different player, he plays way above the rim that not many guys that’s out there, you can throw up a lob anywhere.”
Williams battled a hip issue for most of the last regular season before averaging 3.7 points and 3.9 rebounds over 13 playoff games.
“I’m really excited, honestly,” Williams said. “More just to get on the court with my teammates and feel that good energy cheering for each other. However the rotations play out, they play out.”
With Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford also out, second-year wing Javonte Green joined Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Williams in the starting lineup. Green is the 15th man on the roster and his contract does not become fully guaranteed until February, so there is a chance Boston was giving him this opportunity as a kind of audition.
“They’re all perimeter players that can do multiple things,” coach Brad Stevens said of the starting lineup. “We’re just looking at it to see who makes those guys better and we’ll also look at it to see who we’re playing on that given night. Obviously when Kemba gets back, that changes everything.”
Theis said he expects to resume full on-court workouts over the next few days. He did some light shooting drills Tuesday.