Celtics

Robert Williams is ahead of schedule

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The buzz around the TD Garden was palpable on Monday night and it wasn’t just due to the presence of Anthony Davis. A laundry list of injuries to the Celtics frontcourt ensured that Brad Stevens would have to go far down the depth chart and give considerable minutes to rookie big man Robert Williams for the first time all season.

Williams had only played 35 minutes all year long entering Monday’s game but he had shown enough glimpses of potential to get Celtics fans excited. The loudest cheers of the night were saved for whenever he entered the game. This franchise simply hasn’t had anyone with his skillset in a very long time. Brandan Wright is probably the closest comparison as an athletic, rim-running shot blocker but he spent less than a month with Boston back in 2015 before being shipped off to the Suns for draft picks.

Despite being buried at the bottom of a very deep depth chart, Williams had managed to make himself relevant in the first 20 games of the season. Stevens sees that his skills are already translating to the NBA level on the defensive end and this team can always use good finishers around the rim. He’s got a lot to learn but Stevens went to him on multiple occasions in meaningful game situations even before Monday night. That wasn’t for development purpose: He thought Williams can help this team win in certain spots.