Boston – Robert Williams, the Celtics center, briefly let go of what he was trying to avoid acknowledging: He’s taking a risk.
Williams rushed back from a knee surgery performed in late March. until after, after He made a comeback during Boston’s first-round win over the Nets, and missed five playoffs. For weeks, the Celtics knew their problems would not go away this season. Each game is an exercise in body preparation and pain management.
But the frightening thinks Williams refuses to discuss: playing through this injury could affect the rest of his career.
However, Boston is in the NBA Finals. If he maintains his health, wouldn’t he have moments like this?
Williams admits the pain: “It was rough.” But…
“It’s definitely worth it,” Williams said.
Definitely on a night like tonight.
In the Celtics’ win in Game Three on Wednesday, Williams led Boston with four blocks, three steals and seven defensive rebounds – Sterling’s numbers that are only beginning to show how much he is holding the Warriors. His highest level in the game was +21 even though he only played 26 minutes.
Celtics defensive classification:
- Williams at: 100.0
- Williams suspension: 113.0
This is particularly impressive because Williams played more than two-thirds of his minutes with Golden State star Stephen Curry on the floor. (Boston Defensive Rating with Williams and Carey: 84.8.)
“He could kind of come out of nowhere,” said Curry, whose two passes* were stolen* and issued by Williams.
*Williams’ third steal also came from Curry’s pass, but that was after the ball rebounded from Draymond Green’s legs. Although Williams showed range in grabbing the loose ball, it wasn’t really Williams imposing his will on Curry.
Bring the nugget curry. He was driven by Grant Williams, but Robert Williams refused his pontoon:
– Boston Celtics June 9, 2022
Carey said: “I thought I had the daylight to get a shot, and you underestimate how athletic he was and how much he could disturb that shot.
“You have to be aware of where he is, because that’s what he’s doing to them at that end of the floor.”
The Warriors present a particularly difficult challenge to the struggling Williams with their movement and shooting. On one occasion, Williams said Celtics coach Aime Odoka yelled at him “Wake up” — as if he was rising to the ground to defend the shooter.
“I told him, ‘I thought I was awake!”‘ Williams said. “
Odoka, as a junior coach, was impressed by his ability to hold his players accountable. He also previously trained for years with Tottenham, who was famous for sitting down Tim Duncan in the 2000 playoffs rather than pushing him through a knee injury. So, Udoka is familiar with these kinds of tough decisions.
Odoka has a view on how he wants it to work and is confident it will be implemented. Among his principles: He’d rather stick with his best players – even with Williams’ limited presence – and change the tactic rather than his squad.
“This is the basic set going forward,” Odoka said. “And having the confidence to be able to figure it out with him would be great going forward.”
Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown rightly get the most attention as the core of Boston. The Celtics’ longest-serving player, Marcus Smart, has also loved himself.
But Williams — who has a four-year contract extension guarantee of between $48 million and $54 million signed last summer — has emerged as a number one. After showing immaturity early in his career, the Year 4 player has developed into a dependable “game-changer” (Al Horford Williams’ word).
Williams is arguably Boston’s best defender. This is a team that has the best defensive player of the year and there are no weak links in their starting lineup. At 6-foot-9 with a wingspan of 7-foot-6, Williams marshals all over the field obliterating opponents’ chances.
At least when he’s healthy.
Williams said having two days off between games 2 and 3 helped. There is only one day off between matches 3 and 4.
“Usually the pain is more the day after the game,” Williams said. “Obviously, the adrenaline is dropping.”
Wednesday was an adrenaline rush. In front of a raucous crowd on the bigger stage, Williams propelled his team to victory.
Another test will come on Thursday. Then with Game 4 Friday. Then, again the next day and after and…
But whatever that means for his future, and whatever the damage right now, Williams is committed to pushing for the ultimate adrenaline rush – the celebration of the championship.