The Celtics’ superstar players will need to play to their abilities in order for Boston to contend for a championship. That goes without saying.
But in order for the C’s to get over the hump and actually win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, players surrounded with less fanfare probably will have to step up.
One of those players for the reigning Eastern Conference champions is Robert Williams III. In fact, former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins believes Williams could be the difference-maker for Boston as it relates to claiming the NBA’s most coveted hardware.
“It’s gonna solely rely on Robert Williams,” Perkins said Monday on ESPN’s “NBA Today.” “He was the unsung hero in Game 7. It may not show up in the box score, but what he brought on the defensive side of things was we saw James Harden attack the basket and should’ve shot floaters at times or even tried to lay the ball up, but because Robert Williams was in the paint, he was kicking it out. And on the offensive end, we heard Jayson Tatum say plenty of times, ‘In order for us to win this championship, Robert Williams is the most important piece.’ You know why? Because he’s so much of a dynamic roller and he’s so much of a lob threat at the basket that when Jayson Tatum uses him in the pick-and-roll, it opens up everything and more from him. Even Robert Williams playing the dunker spot opens up the lanes and everything for Jayson Tatum to allow him to be the better version of himself.
“He played 30 minutes last night (Sunday) and it was an impactful 30 minutes. It’s going to benefit Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as long as he’s on the floor. Remember, that two-big lineup was the best lineup for the Celtics last year when they went to the NBA Finals.”
Williams figures to play a big role in the Eastern Conference finals, which kick off Wednesday night at TD Garden. The onus might fall on the 27-year-old to try to neutralize versatile Heat big man Bam Adebayo and Williams also will play a role in combatting Jimmy Butler’s hard-to-defend basket attacks. And if Boston returns to the Finals, Williams would have his hands full with either Anthony Davis or Nikola Jokic.
As such, Williams, indeed, might have to play some of the best basketball of his career the next month if the Celtics want to hang banner No. 18.