Good thing Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens acquired Daniel Theis at the February 10th trade deadline two months ago.
The Cs are lacking their defensive anchor in the paint, Robert Williams, due to a torn left meniscus. That seemingly puts them squarely behind the 8-ball in the postseason, no matter who their first-round opponent may be.
Having Theis could end up being the difference between that being true or not.
Head coach Ime Udoka knows that Theis is still a newcomer to the current team despite being on the roster not 14 months ago. That said, he also knows that having him around makes it far easier not to worry so much about not having Williams:
"“Another guy who can do some of the same things and obviously great insurance policy to have him there. A guy that’s been around, although different schematically. The guys all know him and know what he’s about, and he’s picked up pretty quickly. And so, valuable there. But Al is a guy that’s played on and off ball all season so he’s pretty comfortable in either spot.”"
Robert Williams isn’t likely to be back in the first round of the postseason for the Boston Celtics.
Ime Udoka didn’t want to write off the return of the ‘Time Lord’ for the playoffs 100%, but he basically admitted that he’d need to figure out a way to win without Robert Williams:
"“The four-to-six week timetable is what it is. But guys will come back in three (weeks) and stuff. Javonte Green was here and came back in three weeks and jumping out of the gym still. So everybody kind of reacts to it differently and so we’re not ruling him out because of that, but as I’ve said, we anticipate playing the first round without him.”"
That way to win will heavily involve Theis. Whether or not it’s the Brooklyn Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers opposite the Cs in the first-round.
The loss of Williams is one that could prove crucial to the team’s plans moving forward. A first-round elimination for the second-year in a row would have national pundits calling for crazy things once more. Especially if it is to the Nets again.
Ultimately, if the Celtics prove incapable of winning a postseason series, it could be guys like Theis–who has over $27 million left on the four-year deal he signed this past summer with the Houston Rockets–that get dealt for upgraded pieces.
So, in essence, Theis could be playing for his own Boston Celtics future this postseason as a stand-in starter for Williams in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.