Boston Celtics: Putting Robert Williams into starting-five could save bench

Boston Celtics (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images) /

Without Gordon Hayward, the Boston Celtics now have a vacancy within the starting-five that needs to be filled. Might Robert Williams III be a sound filler?

Despite the fact that the Boston Celtics are up 1-0 in this best of seven first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, all-out optimism moving forward has been curbed for the time being.

At the 3:08 minute mark in the fourth quarter of game-one, while fighting for a rebound veteran forward Gordon Hayward landed on a teammate’s foot and, in turn, twisted his right ankle. He would exit the game and left the locker room on crutches with a diagnosed grade-3 ankle sprain.

With this, the Cs are expected to be without the seemingly resurged Hayward — 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists on 50 percent shooting in 2019-20 — for a reported four weeks, leaving a vacancy in the starting-five that needs filling.

Earlier this week we penned an article discussing some possible replacements for the former All-Star in the starting lineup, and came to the conclusion that the Swiss Army man himself, Marcus Smart, appears to be the most obvious choice, as he’s been the go-to for Head Coach Brad Stevens when seeking a replacement for an injured player all season.

"Starting in 40 games this season — show how hobbled Boston has been all season — Smart has found himself putting up 14.4 points, 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.6 steals a night on 35 percent shooting from deep."

However, since this piece’s publication, a major concern has arisen both internally here at the Houdini and by you, the C’s loyal fanbase: Smart being inserted into the starting line-up would severely hinder the already putrid second unit for the Boston Celtics

All season long, the team’s bench has been wildly underwhelming, specifically on offense. Ranking 29th in points, 28th in 3-point percentage, and 20th in offensive rating, it’s evident that the numbers back up the eye test.

With this in mind, removing Smart and his impressive 12.9 points, 4.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and half a block per game on 35 percent shooting from deep, could be catastrophic for Boston’s bench rotation.

Now, at this point you may be asking yourself: well, if it isn’t Marcus Smart that replaces Hayward, then who would it be?!

Ladies and gentlemen, may I direct your attention to a man who many refer to as “Time Lord.”

When discussing the possible replacements for Gordon Hayward in the starting lineup, we noted that the individual does not necessarily have to be of the same position in order to make the cut, and we brought up Robert Williams III as being a reasonable option that should be considered.

"To say Time Lord’s 2020 postseason got off to a great start would be a grandiose overstatement. Logging a bit over 12 minutes, Williams finished Monday’s outing with two points, six rebounds, and four personal fouls on a mere 25 percent shooting from the field.These numbers, of course, are nothing to write home about, but from what we saw during the seeding games — 10.4 points, four rebounds, and 1.4 blocks on 85 percent shooting from the field in 12.6 minutes per game — he has the ability to make a legitimate impact on a game.His showing in game-one should not deter the Celtics from rolling him out consistently. At the end of the day, he’s an uber-athletic big with unbelievable defensive awareness/ instincts.A lineup of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams III could consist of the right combination of talent and size to combat that of Philly’s towering core."

With Williams in the lineup, it would change things a bit for the team. Instead of a five-out offense, the Boston Celtics would be forced to run a four out one in scheme, as the 22-year-old is by no means a floor spacer.

However, this could, in theory, wind up being beneficial for the shamrocks, as having a permanent body placed down low would allow for more second-chance opportunities on offense — boasts a career 16.7 percent rebounding percentage and 10.7, specifically, on the offensive side of the ball — and, with Williams in the lineup, would create more opportunities for pick & roll scenarios (averaged 1.21 points per possession this year).

Defensively, his presence would make the team’s starting frontcourt much more menacing (career defensive box plus/ minus of 4.1) and physically dominating, as Theis and Williams would create somewhat of a makeshift wall to combat the likes Joel Embiid and the rest of the big bodies rostered on the 76ers when heading to the paint.

On top of all this, however, it would leave Marcus Smart — the C’s lifeblood — on the bench, keeping it intact as we move forward throughout this Hayward-less portion of the postseason.

It may not be ideal but, hey, nothing about their current predicament is.

At the very least, putting Robert Williams in the starting-five could help save this Boston Celtics bench.

In my eyes, this experiment is worth a shot!

dark. Next. B/R views this player as an ideal free-agent target for Cs