Here’s why Robert Williams has his coach, teammates excited
Celtics rookie Robert Williams had a strong game against the Wizards on Wednesday, registering 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 14 minutes. He followed that up with 5 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 2 points on his only field-goal attempt of the game in the Celtics’ 129-108 victory over the Hawks on Friday night at TD Garden.
But he understands there is still so much room to grow.
On Thursday, he was back on the court at the practice facility — even though there was no practice — working on some things he did not do so well. He then went to the team’s film session, and afterward pulled some veterans aside for extra advice.
“That’s really good,” coach Brad Stevens said before the Celtics faced the Hawks. “He wants to be good. He’s worked hard. If he continues that, I don’t see how he’s not successful.”
Williams said he has been seeking guidance quite often this season. On Thursday, he was looking for advice about how to make life easier for the Celtics’ scorers with his screens. He wanted to know more about when he should get out of his screens, how to do it quickly, and what angles his teammates prefer to help open space on the floor.
“They’re the No. 1 resource,” Williams said. “Obviously, they’ve been through it all. We’ve got a lot of guys here that have been on playoff teams, championship teams. It’s always good and it’s always the right thing to do to ask them what they prefer, what they need out there.”
Williams has been thrust into a larger role with Al Horford still sidelined by left knee pain and Aron Baynes’s playing time limited as he works his way back from a sprained ankle. He played 16 minutes against the Hawks.
The rookie is quickly developing into a fan favorite, and that was accelerated when he blocked Pelicans star Anthony Davis twice on Monday night.
“He’s got a chance to be a really good player,” Stevens said. “He does a lot of good things and has a lot of room to grow. That’s the bottom line.
“The athletic ability is incredible. Everybody can see that and that’s what gets everyone excited. He really wants to be good.”
Williams said he will continue to seek out guidance from Boston’s veterans. He said he welcomes all of it, even the criticism. He was asked to identify the best piece of advice he has received so far.
“Sleep,” he said. “Get sleep, man. It’s a long, long season.”
Horford sits out again
Horford on Friday missed his fourth consecutive game. Stevens previously said that the team intended to err on the side of caution with Horford so he can be fully healthy when the Celtics need him most, so his latest absence was not a surprise.
“There’s a target time frame, but we’re not going to really talk about it, because we don’t necessarily want to be quick in this,” Stevens said. “We have to be right in this. At the end of the day, it’s a few games, then it will be reassessed to make sure he feels 110 percent. This is another tough stretch. We have [games] tonight and tomorrow, and then we have a couple of days where it’s every other day for five weeks, with one extra day in there at one time. It will be quite a stretch coming up.”
Hayward, Brown back
Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown both returned Friday after being sidelined with illnesses. Hayward had missed two games and Brown missed one. Baynes remains on a minutes restriction as he regains full strength in his left ankle. Hayward scored 19 points, while Brown struggled (2 for 12 from the field), finishing with 4 points.