The Boston Celtics dropped their first loss of the season last night to the Chicago Bulls 120-102. Their 18 point loss marks the worst defeat they’ve had since Game 2 of the NBA Finals where they lost by 19 points.
So far in this young season, the Celtics defense isn’t looking the like the Celtics defense from last season that we came to know and love. At least, the second half of last year that is.
The reason for the drop in defensive efficiency? They’re missing their All-NBA defensive center.
Robert Williams III plays a big role in anchoring this Boston defense from his tremendous presence under the rim, to his versatility to play at the top of the key. Even if Williams gets burnt by a guard at the three point line, his athleticism along with his lankiness allows for him to recover and still make a play at the basket.
Williams has been battling with a knee injury since last season when he partially tore his meniscus just before the playoffs. He eventually made his return during the first round sweep of the Nets, but was not the same missing an extensive amount of playoff games.
When he did play, you could tell he wasn’t at 100%.
Williams underwent knee surgery just before the season, causing him to be out until about 2023 and his absence has been noticeable.
After having one of the top ranked defensive squads in the league last season, Boston is off to an abysmal start, posting the seventh-worst defensive rating in the league behind teams like the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder who, many believe, aren’t even trying to win many games this year.
As for Boston, they ARE trying to win games (or so we hope), and in order to win games, you’re going to need to play solid defense. With that being said, this is only the first loss of the season for the Boston Celtics, but the lack of defense is concerning early on.
Luckily for the Cs, they have one of the best-rated teams offensively in the league, just behind the Dallas Mavericks, who have played two less games.
The Boston Celtics miss Robert Williams III on the glass
Another area where Boston is clearly missing their star center is on the boards. With the lack of depth and constant injuries at the big man position, Boston always seems to struggle on the boards.
When it comes to rebounding, Boston is in the bottom five in rebounds per game. Boston made some moves in the offseason, knowing that Robert Williams was going to miss time due to surgery and knowing that Al Horford was going to be load managing all season to keep his legs fresh, but it’s very obvious that they didn’t do maybe as much as they thought they did.
While missing Williams isn’t doing the Boston Celtics any favors, it certainly looks bright for when he comes back. With the offense exploding every night it’s hard to imagine that bringing in an explosive center like Williams, won’t catapult this team well above the rest of the league.
Luckily, the Boston Celtics finally have some days off with three before they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday at The Garden.