Jayson Tatum described Rob Williams’ return to Boston’s starting lineup perfectly when he said it feels like the Celtics are “getting back to normal.”
The fifth-year center out of Texas A&M started a game for the first time since Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals. He ended the night with six points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two blocks while playing 23 minutes in a 107-99 win over the Chicago Bulls.
“He was great,” Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Williams’ contributions, per NBA.com. “I think he brought a level of joy to our team just because of how unselfish he is and the type of plays he’s able to make on both ends of the floor. I thought our spacing was better with our big lineup. That’s just something we’re going to continue to work on.”
big man pass, big man jam pic.twitter.com/qbcq5WGOxV
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 10, 2023
Williams has played in 10 games since he first returned from offseason knee surgery on Dec. 16 against the Orlando Magic. Since then, he’s averaged 7.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game while playing 19.8 minutes. Boston has also become the seventh-best defense (110.9 defensive rating) and the best offense in the League (117.1 offensive rating).
According to Mazzulla, Boston found their identity as an improved offense that can play stingy defense. Williams being in the lineup allows Boston to fully realize their two-way potential, with Mazzulla specifically stating that Williams gives Boston “a different attack that we can have.”
Grant Williams seems to agree with that assessment. The fourth-year forward said that the Time Lord strengthens Boston offensively and fortifies them on the defensive end with his ability to patrol the paint and defend the rim at an elite level. Tatum noticed how Williams “was in a great rhythm” and that the Celtics are”extremely happy to have (Williams) back.”
“He does so many tremendous things that not many people in the league can even do,” said Grant, “He does a phenomenal job of not only protecting us on the defensive end, but he’s doing a great job pressuring on the offensive glass, being a threat down there – a lob threat. And like JT and [Jaylen Brown] have both said in previous days, we get to continue to include him, we get to continue to work him back into the offense, get familiar with him, understand that there may be opportunities to not only throw lobs but also dropping off to him to allow him to make a play.”
Boston will look to win their fourth-consecutive game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
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