Chastened Williams calls missed flight 'a wake-up call'

Chastened Williams calls missed flight 'a wake-up call'

BRIGHTON -- There were questions about Robert Williams' maturity entering the NBA Draft, questions which, as time passes, look to have been the biggest factor in his anvil-like plummet on draft night into the lap of the Celtics with the 27th overall pick.

Williams, speaking today to the media for the first time since being absent for the Celtics' Summer League team’s first practice because he missed his flight, seems to understand that the perception of him -- even before this most recent incident -- wasn't good.
“People already have a bad image of me,” said Williams, who made it to the Celts' second Summer League practice today. “Missing my flight didn’t help that at all.”
Since missing the flight, Williams has had multiple conversations with the coaching staff and front-office personnel. They all stress the importance of understanding that this is a business and there's a need to be more professional.
Williams sounds as though the message is being received, though understanding what he needs to do and actually doing it are two different things. 
It’s too soon to say whether Williams will use this as a teachable moment and avoid such instances going forward. 
But one thing that’s not in question is his ability to play, and how his skills give the Celtics a dynamic they haven't had in Brad Stevens' five years as coach. 
Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga is the team’s Summer League head coach. I asked him about his early impressions of Williams.
“He dunks with his elbows,” quipped Larranaga, a not-so-veiled reference to Williams’ above-average athleticism and ability to play well above the rim. “He’s been really good, really focused; picked up the points of emphasis we had in practice really well, seems very coachable. This is the beginning of a process for him and our whole Summer League team.”
But this process is different for Williams, a player many see as having lottery (top-14) talent but who, because of concerns about his maturity, slipped further down the draft board than most anticipated. 
As Williams mentioned,  missing his flight over the weekend -- along with being late to his introductory conference call with the media because he overslept on the morning after the draft -- only reinforces the negative image many have about him. 
This latest incident, he says, is the wake-up call that he needed. 
“I talked to Coach Stevens when I got back,” Williams said. “He obviously explained to me about the opportunities; it’s not that many. It’s definitely a wake-up call.”


Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Exactly one month after breaking his hand against the Spurs, Gordon Hayward could make his return to the Celtics lineup Monday night when the C's wrap up a three-game homestand against the Cavaliers. 

Hayward had surgery exactly four weeks ago, and after the procedure, his announced timetable was "up to six weeks," so a potential return to the lineup Monday would be a best-case scenario for the C's.

Boston has fared well in Hayward's absence, going 9-4 in 13 games (after going 7-1 in eight games with Hayward). Other players have stepped up with Hayward out, with Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum all averaging at least 20 points per game this season.

While Hayward might return, Marcus Smart is dealing with yet another health setback, as he's doubtful to play thanks to an eye infection. Robert Williams has already been ruled out with a sore left hip.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 7:30 p.m. ET or stream it via the MyTeams app. 


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Celtics vs. Cavs odds: Best NBA picks, predictions as Gordon Hayward eyes return

Celtics vs. Cavs odds: Best NBA picks, predictions as Gordon Hayward eyes return

The Boston Celtics' Christmas present apparently will be delivered early.

Gordon Hayward participated in a shootaround Monday morning and is on track to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers, per the team.

Hayward was expected to be sidelined until Christmas with a fractured hand but is well ahead of schedule, and should give an added boost to a Celtics team that's won five of its last six games.

Can the Celtics keep it rolling against the free-falling Cavs and cover their largest spread of the season? Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Cavs, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Moneyline: The Celtics (-1600) are massive favorites, and with good reason. The Cavs have lost 12 of their last 13 and are in full-on tank mode after a 47-point defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers. No reason to get cute here.

Point Spread: Am I wary of the Celtics being double-digit favorites after all the times they've played down to their competition this season? Yes. But the Cavs have completely mailed it in and are 2-10 against the spread in their last 12 games. Hayward's return inspires a Celtics (-14) rout.

Point Total: Boston should light up a Cleveland defense that just allowed 141 points to the Philadelphia 76ers. The question is whether the Cavs can hold up their end of the bargain. Considering the over has hit in four of these teams' last five matchups and Marcus Smart (eye infection) may not play, I'll take the OVER on the 216 total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 30-20-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Orlando Magic (+11.5) at Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have won 14 in a row, but they're a pedestrian 12-11 against the spread this season. The Magic have won four in a row and are 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games, so I like them keeping this one in single digits.

Los Angeles Clippers (+2) at Indiana PacersKawhi Leonard won't play in this one and the Clippers have struggled on the road (4-6), but I don't trust a Pacers team that barely beat the New York Knicks and lost to the Detroit Pistons last Friday.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 18-15-1