Boston Celtics middle Robert Williams III (44) blocks a shot by New Orleans Pelicans ahead Zion … [+] Williamson (1) throughout extra time of an NBA basketball sport in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (AP Picture/Gerald Herbert)
There’s solely a lot an opposing crew can do when going through Luka Doncic. Oftentimes, well-executed defensive coverages aren’t sufficient to cease the 21-year-old All-Star, and that was the case Tuesday night time in Dallas. Doncic hit two 3-pointers within the remaining 16 seconds at hand the Celtics their seventh loss in 10 video games, pushing Boston’s file to 15-16.
The Celtics’ fourth-quarter points have headlined their mediocre play over the previous couple of weeks, and Tuesday’s remaining body started within the ugly style that has now turn out to be routine. Regardless of the woes, Boston was capable of uncharacteristically battle again down the stretch. Due to Doncic and a sub-.500 file, that late push might be overshadowed with Boston heading to Atlanta for night time two of its newest back-to-back.
So what can the Celtics do to provide themselves a lift amid their present slide? This may be stated for each sport he has missed, however Boston actually may have used Marcus Sensible on Tuesday night time. The Celtics had been flat for a majority of the second half, stringing collectively quite a few low-energy possessions on either side of the ball. Sensible’s vitality (plus his ball-handling and defensive prowess) probably would have modified that. With little-to-no efficient depth at this level, Brad Stevens wants to start turning to Robert Williams extra typically.
Williams’ minutes have fluctuated all through this season for quite a lot of causes after lacking a piece of video games final yr on account of a hip harm. The crew continues to fastidiously monitor that situation, which definitely performs a job, however extra notable is the logjam Boston has on the middle place. Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson common 9.4 and seven.5 extra minutes than Williams, respectively, however Boston would profit from an eventual lower in Thompson’s allotment.
With Sensible on the shelf, Stevens runs a uneven, two-big beginning lineup with Theis and Thompson. If Thompson strikes to the bench upon Sensible’s return, it may create a good better minutes jam for Boston’s bigs. Stevens and his workers can have Williams’ hip situation in thoughts, however getting him on the ground will assist the Celtics discover some vitality and upside after they seem listless most of the time.
Williams’ taking part in time has been restricted all through his three seasons in Boston, however as he’s improved, he has made significantly better use of his time on the ground. The 23-year-old has performed no less than 20 minutes in simply 5 video games this season, nevertheless that small pattern dimension has proven some good outcomes. In these 5 video games, Williams is taking pictures 80.8% from the ground, averaging 9 factors, 10 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.4 blocks and a couple of.2 steals. His per-36 minute stats are eye-opening as nicely, posting 14.8 factors, 13.1 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and a couple of.3 steals. Sure, he might be extra disciplined and is sweet for a foul move or two, however his upside outweighs these errors proper now. A rim-running shot-blocker is somebody Boston must make the most of as a lot as attainable, particularly amid struggles the place vitality appears to be at an all-time low.
This isn’t to say Thompson has been unhealthy, however he hasn’t given Boston sufficient the place you want to play him over the third-year massive. It is sensible to progressively peel again his minutes whereas rising Williams’, assuming his hip can deal with the added time. Williams is a continuing lob-threat and easily gives a change of tempo for Boston’s frontcourt. He’s developed some good on-court chemistry with rookie level guard Payton Pritchard, and that alone gives cause to imagine in these bench lineups greater than the combos with out him. After dropping 13 of their final 20, this crew may use nearly any change. Rising Williams’ minutes can be a superb place to begin.