Small beginning for the big changes we see in Robert Williams

Small beginning for the big changes we see in Robert Williams

BOSTON -- There is no question that being a year older has benefited Robert Williams III in his development, growth and maturity both on and off the basketball court.

Having had a cluster of wise, battle-tested veterans in his ear was a plus, too. 

But if you’re looking for the biggest change to Williams’ world since becoming a Celtic, it comes in the form of his eight-month-old daughter, Ava. 

“I want my daughter to have everything she could possibly want,” Williams said during a sit-down interview with NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “I want her to have the best perception of me, ever.”

And for those who have followed Williams’ rocky start to life as an NBA player, there is no escaping the tardiness and missed flights as being part of his narrative that she will surely hear about as she gets older. 

But Williams is intent on that not being the man that she knows, the man who seems to have found that necessary purpose to be what head coach Brad Stevens often says he wants for all his players - to be the best version of themselves. 

The commitment Williams has made to preparing himself for this season has not gone unnoticed by Stevens who said earlier that Williams had “as good a summer as anybody” in terms of doing what’s needed for this upcoming season. 

Stevens recalled a conversation he had with Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson about Williams this summer. 

“Kara Lawson said something to me in Vegas (during summer league) that really stuck with me,” Stevens recalled. “She said I wish everybody communicated like Rob does. Last year …  you wouldn’t have said that.”

Indeed, Williams said his level of communication has been ratcheted up significantly which is among the many lessons he took away from his time with Al Horford and Aron Baynes who are now in Philadelphia and Phoenix, respectively.

Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, acknowledged Williams’ communication skills have significantly improved from the time he arrived in Boston in the summer of 2018 until now. 

“His vocal, defensive communication has been awesome,” Ainge told NBC Sports Boston. “Big difference. He’s just confident in the calls. He’s had a very good summer. We could all see the talent last year. The fans, you could feel it in the building when he went into the game. Fans recognize the exciting ability that he has. We just need him to be more consistent. He’s really made a lot of strides this summer.”

And the factors in that growth consist of being a year older and stronger, as well as making changes to his diet and sleep patterns.

But the way Williams sees it, they all pale in comparison to the changes spurred on his life by the birth of his daughter Ava.

And as Williams discusses the sometimes rocky path that has led him to where he is now, the beginning of the talk winds up in an all-too-familiar cul-de-sac of Williams’ thoughts. 

“It’s a journey everyone has to take,” Williams said. “There are going to be trials and tribulations in that journey, always. But you have to look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day before anyone else. Before I can look at my daughter … at the end of the day you have to look at yourself.”

And more times than not, Williams sees Ava and in doing so, sees even more motivation to continue striving towards being the best version of Robert Williams he can be, for her. 

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Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

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Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

The Boston Celtics had their 10-game win streak snapped on Sunday as they fell to the Sacramento Kings, 100-99.

It came down to the final buzzer as Marcus Smart's last-second floater hung on the rim, but failed to fall into the basket.

Here are three instant overreactions from the loss, which brings the C's to 10-2 on the season:

1. The C's are starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence.

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics have looked out of sync offensively in their last couple of games. Friday night's close call vs. the lowly Golden State Warriors left plenty to be desired, and their struggles in Sunday's loss didn't do much to inspire confidence either as they turned the ball over 14 times.

If we see one or two more lackluster performances like this on the West Coast road trip, it may be time to start counting down the days until Hayward's return. But for now, I'm willing to give the C's talented offensive unit the benefit of the doubt.

2. Jaylen Brown and Buddy Hield both are showing they're worth every penny.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Jaylen Brown finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, going 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Once again, he was one of Boston's standout performers on the offensive side and is backing up his statement about his game improving.

As for Hield, he continues to reward the Kings for signing him to a four-year, $86 million contract extension last month. The Celtics simply had no answer for the Indiana product, who dropped 35 points while going 7-for-12 in 3-pointers. Hield also drilled a key 3 late in the fourth quarter to help Sacramento come out on top.

3. Semi Ojeleye is the new Steph Curry.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

OK, fine, it may be a SLIGHT overreaction. Still, Ojeleye surprised everyone by going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and tallying 11 points off the bench. He was one of the bright spots in the Celtics' disappointing loss.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Kings Takeaways: C's 10-game win streak snapped in Sacramento

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Celtics-Kings Takeaways: C's 10-game win streak snapped in Sacramento

So. Close. 

Marcus Smart’s potential game-winning floater as time expired hit seemingly every part of the rim, paused for a moment before rolling out as time expired in Boston’s 100-99 loss to Sacramento. 

‘It was a good look in that moment,” Boston’s Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. 

The loss snapped Boston’s 10-game winning streak, in addition to preventing them from being the first team in NBA history to win 11 in a row after dropping the season opener.

Sacramento (5-7), after dropping their first five games this season, have now won five of their last seven with the lone losses being a road game at defending NBA champion Toronto and a controversial defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.  

After spending most of the first half playing catch-up, the Celtics — in all-too predictable form — swung the game’s momentum in their favor in the third quarter to take a 75-71 lead into the fourth quarter despite the offensive fireworks put on by Sacramento’s Buddy Hield (game-high 35 points). 

In the fourth, Boston’s slim lead didn’t last long with the Kings tying the game at 75 less than a minute into the quarter, only for Carsen Edwards to drain a 3-pointer to put Boston back on top, 78-75.

Things remained close for the rest of the game before Smart’s potential game-winner rolled out as time expired.  

Here are some takeaways from Boston’s one-point loss at Sacramento.


We have come to expect the best from Kemba Walker when the game matters most: the fourth quarter. That was not the case on Sunday, with Walker going scoreless in the fourth quarter to finish with just 15 points. You certainly love the season-high nine assists he tallied, but Walker’s greatest impact on this team night-in, night-out is his scoring down the stretch.


The Kings gave Hield a four-year contract extension worth as much as $106 million, and he showed on Sunday why he's worth every penny. Time and time again, he came up with one big shot after another while often being draped by Boston's best perimeter defender — and one of the best in the NBA — Marcus Smart.  Hield led all scorers with 35 points on an efficient 14-for-24 shooting performance from the field.


One of the biggest keys to the Celtics’ fast start to the season has been their ability to limit their mistakes. They came into Sunday’s game averaging a league-low 11.7 per game. On Sunday, the Celtics committed 12 of their 15 turnovers in the first half alone.


Ojeleye hit a big 3-pointer in the second quarter, capping off a 7-0 Celtics run to bring Boston within four points (36-32) with 6:30 to play in the first half. He would finish the day with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field, including a career-high-tying three 3-pointers. It was indeed a breakout scoring game for Ojeleye who came into Sunday’s game having scored just 14 points in Boston’s 11 games this season. 


While his play doesn’t necessarily find a home on the Celtics’ highlight reel, there’s no getting around the impact that Daniel Theis continues to make on this team. Usually he does it by excelling at intangibles such as setting screens, boxing out and rolling to the basket. But on Sunday, Theis’s impact was made in the more traditional sense: getting points. He finished with a season-high 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double this season. It was also the second time in the last three games Theis has reached double figures scoring. 


The Celtics did not shoot the ball well against the Kings, but their aggressive play offensively led to a number of trips to the free throw line, which was a huge difference-maker in the game’s outcome. For the game, the Celtics were 21-for-24 from the line, compared to the Kings who were just 10-for-12 at the free throw line, which included Richaun Holmes’ game-winning free throws with 13.3 seconds to play. 

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Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.