3 ways Robert Williams’ return will impact the Boston Celtics in their series vs. the Brooklyn Nets:

According to recent reporting, it does appear Robert Williams III will make his return during the opening round of the postseason for the Boston Celtics. This could come as soon as Game 3 or Game 4 in Brooklyn and would be a massive pivot point in the series between the Nets and Celtics.

Now in his fourth year as a pro, the Time Lord has become one of the most effective centers in the NBA this year. He is the anchor for Boston’s notoriously stingy defense and offers a consistent and punishing threat around the rim on offense. As a two-way compliment to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, he is an integral part of this Celtics club.

With his return right around the corner, it’s worth breaking down: why: Williams is so important to Boston. How will Robert Williams impact the Boston Celtics this postseason?

The defense:

Robert Williams was second in blocks per game in the entire NBA this season with 2.2 a night. He was 15th in rebounds and third in offensive rebounds. Even the quickest of glances at the stat sheet portend a high-impact defensive player.

Rob’s story goes far beyond the numbers, though. Under head coach Ime Udoka, the former Aggie has become a bit of a free safety for a Celtics defense that relies heavily on switching and blitzing. Part of why Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum have been so effective at shutting down opponents on the perimeter is because Williams is a punishing second line of defense. (Al Horford has served admirably in Rob’s absence filling a similar role.)

Already the Nets have been extremely reticent to attack the rim against Boston, instead relying on the mid-range and three-point shot. Adding Williams into the fold will only serve to stifle Brooklyn’s limited attempts in the paint all the more. Horford and Daniel Theis will also benefit from Rob’s return. More on this later.

The offense:

Defense became Boston’s calling card during the 2021-22 campaign and will be a huge determinant of the club’s success in the postseason. But the Celtics aren’t exactly chopped liver on offense, and Robert Williams is a massive component of how the C’s score the ball.

Rob is crazy efficient with limited touches. He connects on 73.8% of his field goals during the regular season on a modest 6.0 attempts per game. He’s not the focal point of the offense, but a looming and devastating threat to opposing defenses. Here’s how Draymond Green recently explained it:

“I’m like, ‘Fellas, listen, y’all have to understand, if you are even with Robert Williams, he is going to dunk on you,'” Green said. “‘He will catch the lob on your head, I just watched him catch three of them on AD in one game, and that’s AD. If you’re even with him, he’s going to catch it on your head. So you have to stay below him. ”

Help defenders can’t push up on Tatum or Brown with Williams on the court. Even beyond the pick and roll opportunities, Rob’s unique ability to catch and score at the cup keeps defenses back and mindful of the rim. This changes the geometry of the court in a way few players can. Don’t be fooled by his sometimes modest offensive box score stats – Robert Williams is a key cog in the Celtics’ offense.

The rotation:

Al Horford has looked impeccable against the Nets thus far. His defense and rebounding have gone largely unanswered, and his shooting and play-making are a huge asset to the Celtics. Daniel Theis, meanwhile, has been a reliable rotation piece for the C’s.

Bringing Rob Williams back into the fold straightens things out for Ime Udoka, however. Theis may be a worthy starting center against a team like Brooklyn, but its limitations would be severely tested should the Celtics advance to play a team like the Sixers or Heat. Rob’s return takes pressure off of Theis and reorganizes Boston’s big man rotation to its natural state.

Horford is averaging 36.9 minutes per game thus far against Brooklyn. With Williams in the mix, that number can come down just a tad – Horford will turn 36 in June after all. If Grant Williams and Jayson Tatum continue to play well at the power forward position, Time Lord can allow Horford to rest just a teeny bit more per game.

Likewise, Rob gives Udoka a little more flexibility in crafting his rotation, crucial with Ben Simmons set to return for the Nets. Ditto a bit of insurance should another Celtics player hit the pine with an injury. With Robert Williams back, Boston’s Death Star is fully operational.

This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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