When Will Robert Williams Make Return To Celtics’ Starting Lineup?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it


Dec 27, 2022

Robert Williams III is still working his way back from offseason knee surgery, but early signs look like he’ll be back to the player the Boston Celtics know and love in no time.

Will he be making a return to the starting lineup? Well, that’s a different story.

Since his return on Dec. 16, Williams has come off the bench for the Celtics as he looks to return to form. The 25-year-old has shown flashes in limited minutes, grabbing 12 rebounds in 22 minutes against the Indiana Pacers and shooting 72% over the course of four games.

Williams’ elite defensive abilities are exactly what the Celtics have been missing through two months of the season, but that doesn’t mean they are willing to rush him into a more significant role quite yet. Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla was asked Tuesday what Boston’s plan would be as it presumably worked Williams back into the starting lineup.

“Um, are we going to do that?” Mazzulla responded, per NBC Sports Boston video. “I just think it depends on what’s best for our team at the time. (Also) what is best for him. We’ve fluctuated the starting lineup a little bit throughout the year, which I think has given us some flexibility. But we’ve found consistency in what we have now.

“It’s just a matter of, if it makes sense we’ll do it. If it doesn’t, we won’t.”

Boston’s most consistent starting lineup has been Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Al Horford and Derrick White. In games where one of those players has been out, Grant Williams, Blake Griffin and Payton Pritchard have slotted in, leaving Malcolm Brogdon as the designated sixth man.

That doesn’t seem to be what the Celtics have envisioned for Robert Williams, as Mazzulla said the decision to bring him off the bench is more about the consistency with the aforementioned starting five than anything else.

The Texas A&M alum should have opportunities to slot back into the starting lineup with Horford sitting out the second night of back-to-backs. After initially being listed as questionable, Robert Williams will be active against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday at TD Garden.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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