How Celtics’ Robert Williams III Adjustment Changed Series

Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

The Boston Celtics knew that they had to pull out all of the stops in Game 6 with their backs up against the wall. They were facing NBA playoff elimination at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers in their second-round series after the 76ers pulled off a dominating victory in Game 5 in Boston.

Head coach Joe Mazzulla knew that he needed to shake things up after a listless performance. So, he went back to old reliable, inserting Robert Williams III into the starting lineup alongside Al Horford.

“I’ll tell you what,” Horford said after the game, “I’m glad that Joe made that adjustment, and we did it, because what a difference.”

That is the frontcourt pairing that the Celtics rode to the NBA Finals last year and for one night, it got them one step closer to doing it again. It wasn’t pretty, but Boston won Game 6 95-86, forcing a Game 7 at home on Sunday.

“I was ecstatic about it,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “To have Rob in there, he changes the game a lot … that just goes to show you, Joe [Mazzulla] is learning. Just like all of us. I know he’s been killed a lot. Rightfully so. He needs to make some adjustments, and he did that. And that’s all you can ask for, just continue to be the best he can be. It takes everybody; it’s a full team effort.”

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics & Golden State Warriors Updates

Mazzulla has been under fire from the media and fans for his lack of adjustments. He is at a severe disadvantage when it comes to experience in virtually every matchup as a first-year head coach. As Smart noted, he is learning and doing what he can to put that knowledge to use right away.

“Give us a different look,” Mazzulla replied during his pre-game press conference when asked why he was making the lineup change. “At his best, Rob gives us a lift, especially on the defensive end. Just his presence at the rim, his ability to guard and rebound.”

The Celtics have a different feel when Williams is on the court. His presence is felt given the impact that he can have defensively blocking shots and rebounding. Offensively he brings another dimension to the court as well with his above-the-rim style of play.

NBA NEWS & PLAYOFFS: Robert Williams III, Boston Celtics & Golden State Warriors Updates

Williams ended up playing just under 28 minutes, scoring 10 points to go along with nine rebounds, one assist and two blocks. His +18 plus/minus ratio was tied for the best mark on the team along with Smart.

While Joel Embiid said that the lineup change with Williams taking over the starting center spot didn’t impact the 76ers, it was clear that it helped something click for Boston. They have a different feel with him in the starting lineup as Mazzull cut the rotation to only seven players with Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White the only players coming off the bench.

Want the latest in NBA analysis, breaking news, and insider information? Click Here. Follow NBA Analysis Network on Twitter and Facebook.

NBA Finals Film Study: How Celtics Held Mavs To 89 Points In G1, Doncic To 1 Assist

The Boston Celtics took a 1-0 series lead in the 2024 NBA Finals using a 107-89 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Luka Doncic scored 30

Knicks Linked Again To Karl-Anthony Towns In Trade Buzz

The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off an exciting NBA playoff run to the Western Conference Finals before being eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks. With Anthony

Celtics Used Kristaps Porzingis’ Return To Fuel Game 1 Win Over Mavs

Kristaps Porzingis returned after missing over a month due to a calf injury, propelling the Boston Celtics to a 107-89 victory over the Dallas Mavericks