Robert Williams has played an important role off the bench for the Boston Celtics in their Eastern Conference semifinals series versus the Toronto Raptors.
The second-year center scored 10 points with five rebounds in Game 1, and he followed that up with 10 points and four rebounds in Game 2. Williams hasn't missed any of his 10 field goal attempts in the two games, and his play has helped Boston take a 2-0 series lead.
The 2018 first-round draft pick was an X-factor entering the series, but it's still a bit surprising that he's been so effective.
Did the Raptors not prepare enough for Williams? In the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, longtime Raptors reporter Doug Smith of the Toronto Star gives his take on Williams' impact and if he can keep up this level of play throughout the series.
"Talking to Nick Nurse before the series started, they thought Williams would play over (Enes) Kanter, but I don't think they thought he'd be as effective as he's been," Smith said. "They thought (Serge) Ibaka might be able to neutralize him a little bit, more than he has.
" ... They've got to figure out how to get him under control. I do think when things even out over the balance of time, he'll come back to Earth. I think he had a great run (in Game 2). He's very energetic. He jumps high, he jumps fast, he runs and he does stuff a lot of kids don't do. But I'm not sure he's going to be able to do that four games in a row in a playoff series."
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It's clear that Williams is a bad matchup for many of the Raptors' big men. Marc Gasol, in particular, doesn't have the athleticism to slow down Williams, especially in transition.
Could we see less of Gasol as the series progresses?
"I think we very well may," Smith said. "I wouldn't be surprised if (Nurse) went to Ibaka over Gasol to start, and I wouldn't be surprised if they split those backup minutes between Gasol and maybe a guy like (Rondae) Hollis-Jefferson. I think Boucher is too skinny and too physically weak to handle Williams. I think Rondae is a little bit tougher and a veteran-savvy kind of guy -- can guard multiple positions. He'll hurt you offensively, but you've got to give up something to get something. But I think they have to pay more attention to Williams and they have to be more aware of him when he's on the floor than they have been. I think that's going to be a big film session lesson today."
Finding a way to limit Williams' effectiveness is one of several adjustments for the Raptors to consider before Thursday night's Game 3.