INDIANAPOLIS — Celtics rookie Robert Williams was assigned to the Maine Red Claws for their season opener on Friday and tallied 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks in a loss to the Westchester Knicks. Williams was recalled by the Celtics for their game against the Pacers on Saturday, and it was not exactly a luxurious experience.
Williams woke up just after 4 a.m. in Portland and flew on a commercial jet to Detroit before continuing on to Indianapolis. He arrived here at about 9:30, just in time for film review and the team’s morning shootaround.
“It was fun getting back out there, getting the opportunity, crafting my game,” Williams said of his stint with the Red Claws. “It was straight. I’m ready to step in if they need me, when they need me for support. It’s definitely a confidence booster. I haven’t had a chance to play a lot since I got out of college. So the runs and the reps definitely boosted my confidence and helped me.”
Williams was 5 for 5 from the field in his Red Claws debut. Coach Brad Stevens said the Celtics will look for opportunities for Williams to play in Maine, but he said that Daniel Theis’s foot injury makes it more likely that Williams will probably not have an extended stay with the Red Claws any time soon.
“With Theis out, we’re one night of foul trouble away from playing him a lot,” Stevens said. “So it’s really important that he’s with us right now, and if he can get some run in Maine, that’s great.”
Brown back on court
Forward Jaylen Brown, who missed Thursday’s game against the Bucks with a sore right foot, returned against the Pacers on Saturday night. He was cleared to play after getting through the team’s morning shootaround without incident. Brown scored 12 points in 31 minutes.
“There’s been a lot of pain for no reason,” Brown said. “Now it’s at a point where I can at least bear it.”
Brown said that extra padding has been put inside his right sneaker to alleviate the pressure on his foot in specific areas. “I like being out there, so any time I get a chance to play, I’m going to play,” Brown said. “I’ve played through worse.”
Forward Gordon Hayward remains on a minutes restriction as he works his way back from last year’s season-ending ankle injury, but the figure is gradually increasing. He played nearly 27 minutes, a season high, in Boston’s win over the Bucks on Thursday. He played 26 minutes against the Pacers.
“He’s not going to get to 30 minutes in the next couple games,” Stevens said. “We’ll just keep evaluating him week to week. It’s a long-term plan, based on getting back to not only playing one game but 82 games. He probably is pretty frustrated by it at times, but he does a good job not showing it.”
Hayward and Stevens last took part in a basketball game together here when both were at Butler University.
“I haven’t really talked much about it,” Stevens said. “He brought his wife and his girls, but we both try to keep it as focused on the game as possible and really enjoy coming back. It’s always great to be back, but really enjoy coming back when we get a chance in the summer to get with friends and all that.”
“It’s always fun playing in Indy,” Hayward added. “I grew up watching the Pacers, coming to these games.”