Former Celtics Bill Russell and Paul Silas will always be linked by the championship banners they helped win that hang from the TD Garden rafters. Russell captured 11 of them from 1957-69. Silas arrived later and played a key role on Boston’s 1973-74 and 1975-76 title teams.
But their connection goes back even further: Both players were graduates of McClymonds High School in Oakland, Calif. Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas said Tuesday before his team lost, 126-102, to the Celtics that his father, who died Dec. 10 at the age of 79, was always an admirer of Russell, who passed away at 88 on July 31.
“He looked up to him,” Silas said. “My dad wanted to go to the University of San Francisco like him. They used to go to the same park. Bill Russell used to run the court before my dad actually had a chance to get on the court. There are so many things that Bill did that my dad wanted to do. For them to both be Celtics was pretty ironic, but also really cool.”
Silas said that his trips to TD Garden as a coach will always be meaningful.
“Whenever I come to Boston, I think about my dad’s impact on this organization and the two banners that are in the rafters because of what he did,” he said. “Yeah, whenever I come to Boston, I always think about my dad and being a Celtic.”
The Celtics handed out pins honoring Paul Silas prior to Tuesday’s game.
“Growing up, that’s what he was: He was a Celtic,” Stephen Silas said. “For them to do that, it means a ton to just me and my family and my friends. It’s really just a classy, classy thing to do.”
Williams plays big role off bench
Robert Williams made his season debut Dec. 16 after missing the start of the year while recovering from offseason left knee surgery. The Celtics center has come off the bench in all five games since returning, and it was widely assumed he would slide back into the starting lineup once he was cleared for a full workload.
But on Tuesday, coach Joe Mazzulla hinted that there was a chance Williams could come off the bench for the rest of the season.
“I think it just depends on what’s best for our team at the time and what’s best for him,” Mazzulla said. “We’ve fluctuated the starting lineup a little bit throughout the year, which I think has given us some flexibility. But we’ve found some consistency in what we have now and I think it’s just a matter of if it makes sense, we’ll do it, and if it doesn’t we won’t.”
Mazzulla stressed that Williams’s current bench role is unrelated to his conditioning or comfort levels. Williams made his presence known in 21 minutes off the bench against the Rockets with 11 points and 15 rebounds (5 offensive).
Pritchard out of action
Guard Payton Pritchard was unavailable off the bench because of a thigh contusion. Williams, who was listed as questionable due to an illness, was cleared to play.