Robert Williams shined Saturday night, putting together what arguably was his best performance in a Celtics uniform.
The second-year big man was tremendous in the paint during his 22 minutes off the bench, blocking six shots and grabbing seven rebounds while pouring in 11 points and adding a pair of assists. His blocked shots and point totals were career highs.
What might end up being most encouraging to Brad Stevens and Co. is the fact that Williams only fouled twice. Delivering such a solid performance while never approaching foul trouble is something the Celtics would benefit from seeing more often, especially since it didn’t impede his ability to block shots.
“I feel like I’ve just got to be a great defensive presence,” Williams told reporters after the game, via the team’s Twitter account, “And be very vocal.”
It’s easy to forget sometimes that Williams was widely regarded as a lottery-pick talent leading up to the 2018 draft, however he fell due to concerns about his motor and work ethic. It seems any attitude problems are few and far between, if not non-existent altogether, and nights like Saturday show why the Celtics were willing to take a chance on him.
Given the lack of depth in the frontcourt for the Celtics, particularly with Enes Kanter out, Williams has a great chance to get big minutes and be an important contributor. He just took a big step in the right direction.
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Celtics-Spurs game:
— The big story of the night, obviously, was the injury to Gordon Hayward.
Late in the second quarter, Hayward collided with Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, and in doing so Hayward fractured his hand.
Stevens shared an update after the game and ESPN reported some info as well, but in the meantime the C’s will have to find a way to soldier on in Hayward’s absence. Here are some ideas on how they might proceed.
— Hayward wasn’t the only player that dealt with an apparent injury against the Spurs.
In the fourth quarter, San Antonio guard Bryn Forbes drove to the basket, and as he leapt for a layup attempt, he kneed Marcus Smart square in the nether regions. Smart went straight to the floor in pain, then limped his way off the court.
Smart later was seen smiling on the bench, but he never returned to the game. He finished his night with 16 points, and the knock didn’t appear to be anything serious.
— Jaylen Brown delivered a solid showing, which is becoming a habit when he plays at AT&T Center.
The fourth-year forward scored a game-high 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting, while also hitting nine of his 10 free throw attempts. He rounded out his nice night with seven rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Regardless of how long Hayward is out, the Celtics are going to need their wing players, of which they have many, to step up. It’s hard to imagine Boston giving Brown the contract it did prior to the season if there was any skepticism of his ability to do that, so the time has arrived for him to prove it.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images