BOSTON -- It was something most Boston Celtics fans didn’t expect to see this time of year -- rookie Robert Williams III mobbed by media after a game in which he played a career-high 26 minutes and contributed to a Boston win.
But his play in Boston’s win over New Orleans warranted some post-game love, the kind that may become more of a regular occurrence going forward.
One of the main reasons Williams saw so much playing time was because Al Horford did not play due to what head coach Brad Stevens described as patellar tendinitis.
It is a condition where often the best treatment for it is rest, which means there’s a pretty good chance that Horford will miss a few more games this season to deal with the ailment.
And that could mean more nights like Monday when the Time Lord graced us with his presence and play that included not one, but two rejections of shots from perennial All-Star big man (and target of Celtics Nation) Anthony Davis.
More time for the Time Lord is seemingly on every Celtics fan’s wish list this holiday season.
But the Celtics have been overly cautious in their approach to bringing along Williams, the 27th pick in last June’s NBA draft who weeks prior to that was seen as a lottery (top-14) pick by many experts.
He too has had some tendinitis issues that he and the Celtics staff have been managing since he arrived.
Boston will take a similar approach with Horford going forward.
“He’s (Horford) been dealing with (patellar tendinitis) for a while,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “So, we’re going to see how this goes. He’s day-to-day now, but we may go slowly with him.”
Which may result in a speeding up the Time Lord’s workload beyond practice and playing in the Development League with the Maine Red Claws.
Whatever Williams is called upon to do, there’s a different kind of confidence he has in himself in part because of his own personal growth since becoming a Boston Celtic.
If there was a turning point for him, it would have to be the conversation he had with Brad Stevens shortly after he missed his first practice.
Williams said the meeting lasted about a half hour, with Stevens making his feelings on the matter crystal clear to Williams.
“It’s a job; this ain’t college,’” Williams, in an interview with NBC Sports Boston earlier, recalled being the gist of Stevens’ message. “It ain’t time for them (expletive) ups; that was basically what he was saying. I understood him. I heard him loud and clear.”
Stevens declined to go into details about that conversation with Williams, but made it clear that he has been pleased with his overall effort and approach to things since they got past those early season gaffes on Williams' part.
“He’s done a really good job of just working, doing all the little things you need to be a professional in this league. I like where he’s at and where he’s going as a player, as a person.”
A. SHERROD BLAKELY
And depending on how injuries play out, he may be going straight up the Celtics depth chart to the point where steady minutes become the norm and not the exception.
Playing time is something Williams knows he has no control over.
It’s what he does when called upon, that serves as a driving force for him now.
Williams knows the way he began his career as a Celtic brought about a lot of uncertainty as to how reliable a teammate he can be.
But Williams has made a point of doing all he can to not just gain but solidify the trust of his teammates as well as his head coach.
“I looked at it as another blessing,” Williams said. “Any coach could have easily be done with me already. But Brad gave me another chance. I’m trying to stay on track, do everything I can to help the team.”
Having the support of his teammates has also been one of the many blessings Williams is proud of since becoming a Celtic.
“It motivates me to want to do everything the correct way now,” Williams said. “It’s another blessing. I don’t want him (Stevens) or my teammates to feel they can’t trust me. I keep that in the back of my mind; don’t give him or them any negativity about me.”
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