BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics could use a little size in their lineup, and they may get it Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While much of the focus is on Enes Kanter and his knee injury, which has cost the Turkish big man the last four games, that focus should belong to Robert Williams. After missing Friday night’s last-second win over the Knicks in Boston with a hip injury, Williams is considered probable for Tuesday night’s game. Kanter is doubtful, but went through shootaround on Tuesday and sounded confident he’d return when chatting with reporters on Monday.
Boston was severely lacking size against the Knicks last Friday, and it showed. They got owned on the offensive glass, giving up 16 offensive rebounds, and let the Knicks bully their way to 38 points in the paint. That was to be expected, with the Celtics going long stretches with rookie Grant Williams (6-foot-6) and Jayson Tatum (6-foot-8) as their biggest players on the floor.
The C’s needed a last-second make by Tatum to beat the Knicks. Maybe a few more rebounds — or a few less offensive ones for the Knicks — would have led to a more comfortable W for Boston.
Now they’ll square off against a front court of Kevin Love, who is averaging a ridiculous 15.8 boards per game so far this season, and Tristan Thompson and his 11.3 rebounds per game on Tuesday night. While Boston’s smaller lineups should be able to run circles around both players, the C’s are gonna need to pull down some rebounds if they don’t want to rely on some last second heroics to win their fifth straight.
Brad Stevens will still likely turn to Daniel Theis in his starting five, but Williams could be the difference between a closer night on the glass and the C’s receiving another boarding lesson from their opponent. Williams has looked much more cozy as Boston’s center in his limited time this season, pulling down five rebounds over his 15.3 minutes per game. He still chases too many blocks, putting him out of position elsewhere on defense, but he needs more run and competition against solid bigs to grow. He should get that Tuesday, especially if Kanter misses another contest.
Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum provide the main reason to sit through an early November Celtics game in Cleveland, but some Robert Williams against Cleveland’s rebounding fiends would add a little more interest to the matchup.