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Forsberg: Have Celtics found the right formula for Robert Williams?

Boston Celtics. basket ball team

Nothing about what wed previously seen from Robert Williams III in the NBA Finals should have given Steph Curry cause for concern as he casually lofted a floater over him early in the fourth quarter of Wednesdays Game 3 at TD Garden.

Williams III hadn’t had the same speed, the same explosion that made him a key ingredient as Boston emerged as the NBAs best defense this season.

Scrambling over from the opposite blocks to contest the Curry drive, Williams III launched into a more familiar orbit and swatted the offering so hard it left Scott Foster going full Matrix to avoid getting drilled in the dome 30 feet away.

On a night filled with positives, especially Bostons physical response from the Warriors Game 2 butt-whooping, the most encouraging sign was how Time Lord turned back the clocks.

Looking spry again and playing with more familiar bounce, Williams III chipped in 8 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 3 steals over nearly 26 minutes of action in Boston`s 116-100 triumph to take a 2-1 series lead.

After the Warriors put their typical third-quarter squeeze on the Celtics, Williams III logged nearly 10 minutes of fourth-quarter floor time and helped Boston salt away a win.

Williams III hadn’t been the same player for much of the past two rounds. A surgically repaired left knee, compounded by a bone bruise suffered against the Bucks, hadn’t allowed him to race out to shooters or showcase his usual bounce around the basket. But the Celtics tweaked his routine Wednesday — both in warming him up before the game, and his minute pattern during floor time — and got encouraging results.

Even without Williams III at full health, it`s felt like the Celtics have been trying to extract whatever he can give them the past two rounds. Or as Marcus Smart put it, “If you can go, we’ll take 20 percent of you better than none of you. He understood that, and he decided to go out there and put his big-boy pants on and suck it up and go crazy.”

The Defensive Player of the Year knows how impactful Williams III can be at even something less than 100 percent.

Beset through accidents for the duration of his career, it become truthful at instances to surprise why Williams III hasnt been capable of grind via a few maladies. But hes mechanically positioned the group beforehand of his fitness this postseason.

Williams III got here returned from meniscus surgical treatment in much less than 4 weeks to leap into the first-spherical sweep of the Brooklyn Nets. Just as he become shaking rust, Williams III suffered a bone bruise at the identical knee seeking to shield a Giannis Antetokounmpo pressure in Round 2. He did now no longer play withinside the very last 4 video games of that collection earlier than returning to assist Boston at some point of maximum of its seven-sport conquer the Heat withinside the Eastern Conference finals.

Williams hasn`t been capin a position to take part in a good deal extra than agility drills and mild capturing on off days with the group trying to restrict the wear and tear and tear on his knee.

He`s downplayed the worries approximately the long-time period effect on his play, acknowledging the value of the moment.

“Just seeking to be responsible for my group. We made it this far,” stated Williams III. “Like I stated, manifestly I had a dialogue with myself, through pushing via this. I`m satisfied with how it is going. We’ll fear approximately the harm after the season, however for now I’m nevertheless fighting …

Williams IIIs effect can be great quantified in Golden States loss of pictures withinside the four to fourteen foot region on Wednesday. The Warriors generated simply six pictures there and made simplest one, in step with NBA tracking. Its splendid due to the fact Golden State has generated 26.eight percentage of its overall playoff pictures withinside the quick midrange, which ranked 6th amongst all playoff teams, in step with Cleaning the Glass data. They were capturing north of fifty percentage on the ones pictures earlier than Wednesdays sport.

Williams is the last deterrent. Its one aspect to assault the basket understanding hes a step gradual due to harm. Curry determined out the difficult manner what its like while hes feeling spry.

The Celtics are clearly exceptional while Williams III is running like he did on Wednesday night. Youve were given Smart hounding on the fringe and Williams III cleansing up errors at the returned line. Its a reminder of why Williams III landed at the All-Defense 2nd group and why even loftier awards may want to anticipate down the road.

“Rob is an outstanding protecting player. In my opinion, he may want to have gained Defensive Player of the Year, as well, in that class with Smart, however he had a few accidents that took him out of the running,” stated Jaylen Brown.

“Rob, while he is healthful and he is available transferring like him, he is one of the higher protecting gamers withinside the league. No wonder tonight.”

The lingering query is whether or not the Celtics can hold Williams III transferring like he did in Game 3.

Keeping him upright for a pair extra weeks would possibly simply be the important thing to securing Banner 18.

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