Robert Williams Feels Energy Shift Being Back In Celtics Starting Lineup

Williams has been a difference-maker as a starter


May 17, 2023

BOSTON — The difference has been noticeable once the Boston Celtics inserted Robert Williams into the starting lineup for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Williams has felt the difference, too.

“When I was coming off the bench and not starting, there were games you could just tell the energy was down a little bit,” Williams told reporters Wednesday prior to Game 1 of the conference finals against the Miami Heat at TD Garden, per the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan. “Not saying that it’s a one-person task, it takes the whole team. But (I’m) trying to start with a little higher energy.”

The spark Williams provided plus his injection of athleticism has benefitted the Celtics and helped them to two straight victories in must-win situations. He recorded nearly a double-double in a critical Game 6 win on the road against Philadelphia while also deterring the 76ers with his shot-blocking prowess once they got into the paint. Williams followed that up with a solid showing in the series-clinching win as well.

Much of what Williams brought to the floor in those two games against the 76ers, he’s looking to replicate now against the Heat.

“Energy, rebounding, defense. Like I said, it’s not a one-person task. It requires everybody,” Williams said per Callahan. “But that’s why I lead this team in a lot of aspects. Just energy-wise, getting my players open, getting us extra shots, getting the shooters open. So, that’s my job.”

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla revealed prior to the matchup with the Heat that he would stay with the double-big starting lineup despite Miami not possessing a big man like Joel Embiid. Mazzulla sees Williams bringing benefits on both ends of the court in that unit, which is why he’s sticking with it as the Celtics look for a second straight NBA Finals appearance.

“I just thought it brought us a sense of defensive versatility (and) a lob threat on the offensive end,” Mazzulla said prior to Game 1.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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