Patriots

Newly acquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics

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Newly acquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics

WALTHAM As Sean Williams finished talking with the media following a rare Boston Celtics practice, he was ready to head back to the locker room and change.

He opened one door, only to realize it wasn't the one he was looking for.

"See, I'm still learning my way around here," said Williams, who seconds later found the right door.

Williams has a history of taking the wrong path, whether it was his time at Boston College which led to him being kicked off the team, or in the NBA in two-plus seasons with the New Jersey Nets.

By all accounts, those troubled days have certainly delivered a major blow to his stock as an NBA player.

But it also in many ways humbled him, making the 25-year-old appreciate the one thing so few NBA teams have been willing to give him lately - an opportunity.

And the C's are more than willing to give him that chance, something that few teams have been willing to do after his first three seasons in New Jersey seemed to get progressively worse from one year to the next.

Since appearing in 126 games during his first three seasons with the Nets, Williams has played in just nine NBA games since - eight with the Dallas Mavericks and one with the Celtics.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle speaks highly of Williams, a player they had to release because at the time they needed help at the wing position.

Carlisle describes Williams as a "good kid, great athlete" who is a "very smart kid."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke with a number of former coaches and former teammates of Williams, who all spoke glowingly about him.

"The one thing they all say is he's not just smart, he's brilliant smart," Rivers said. "But he does dumb things. We have to get him away from that, and just be a ball player. If he can do that, he has a chance."

And at this point, that's all Williams wants from the Celtics.

"You just come in, try to work hard, keep your eyes open, come in early, stay late and get a sense of how the organization is run," Williams said. "And work hard, at the end of the day, just work hard."

Those are the expectations he has for himself.

As for what Rivers expects from Williams?

"He just told me to be a positive influence, and have each other's back," Williams said. "It starts with the family."

And Williams is indeed part of that family, which is a testament in itself as to how much Rivers believes that despite Williams' issues in the past, he believes he can be an asset - both as a person and as a player - for the Celtics now.

"We're bringing in a 10-day, and I talked to nine coaches, assistant coaches, ex-players who played with him, because my locker room is unbelievable," Rivers said. "I don't want to bring in anyone, even for five days, that'll upset that."

Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

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Backes and Bergeron return to Bruins practice, may be back in action soon

BRIGHTON -- It was good news when word first filtered out that David Backes had resumed skating last weekend while the Bruins were on the West Coast, and even better news Tuesday when he returned to practice. Backes skated without any restrictions in a spot on the third line with Riley Nash and Tim Schaller, and appeared to be recovering nicely from his bout of diverticulitis.

Backes was initially diagnosed with the inflammatory colon ailment in the first few days of October, with the team estimating a three- to four-week recovery period. If he'd needed surgery rather than the  prescribed rest and medication, he could have been facing a lot more missed games.

Patrice Bergeron was also back skating on Tuesday morning while centering Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork, still sporting a maroon no-contact jersey while taking some light contact during the practice session.

Backes and Bergeron look like they’ could be returning to the lineup soon.

But the injury news wasn't all good, as Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Adam McQuaid were all missing from practice.

Spooner (lower body) and McQuaid (lower body) were both injured in Sunday night’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, and Czarnik and/or Heinen might be ticketed back to Providence soon if the Bruins have to make roster space for Bergeron and/or Backes ahead of Thursday night’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with a whole different look to things with some of the different bodies taking part in the skate:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pasta
Schaller-Nash-Backes
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano
White

Chara-Carlo
Miller-McAvoy
Krug-Postma

Rask
Khudobin