The Celtics are on pace to have the best offense in franchise history after the first eight games of the regular season following Saturday’s win over the Knicks. That impressive showing amid a 5-3 start has come despite missing starting center Rob Williams as he recovers from offseason knee surgery.
Williams made his first road trip with the team on Saturday night in New York in a sign that he is inching closer to a return. The big man acknowledged to reporters in New York that his rehabilitation has gone well to this point and his activity includes dunking.
“It feels great just getting back on the court, to be honest, man,” Williams said. “I need them just like they need me.”
While the window for Williams’ return isn’t expected to begin until December, Jayson Tatum couldn’t help but get excited about see the big man on the trip.
“We’ll be that much better of a team,” Tatum told reporters Saturday night. “That’s how important Rob is to our group. I can’t stress enough how important he is to the offensive end, defensive end, his presence, lob threat, protecting the rim and his ability to pass the ball. Obviously, we miss him but we don’t want to rush him back because we want to win when it matters most.”
The Celtics are already posting 117 points per 100 possessions thanks to some stellar 3-point shooting to begin the year, which puts them second overall in the NBA in offensive efficiency. Williams ability to pass and draw defenses into the paint as a lob threat should only enhance Boston’s spacing once he is back on the floor, giving this group incredible upside offensively under new coach Joe Mazzulla.
In the meantime, the challenge will be keeping Boston’s defense at a high level without the team’s best inferior defender available.
“Rob is a big part of that and not having him there presents some challenges that we got to figure out on a nightly basis,” Tatum said of the Celtics defense.
With his recovery going well, Williams may be back to solve that problem sooner than anticipated.