LAS VEGAS – Robert Williams was a rebounding machine Thursday night, prompting Summer Celtics head coach Scott Morrison to say it was “the best I’ve ever seen him rebound.”
Williams finished with 16 rebounds in just 20 minutes of action during Boston’s dominant 113-87 victory over the previously-unbeaten Memphis Grizzlies. Those rebounding numbers equate to an incredible rate of 28.8 rebounds per 36 minutes.
It doesn’t get much better than that, although Williams seems to think he’s got room for improvement.
“It’s not the best I’ve ever seen me rebound,” he quipped with a smile as a rebuttal to Morrison’s comment.
Williams did, however, admit that he dedicated more energy to the glass Thursday than he had in the past.
“Scott’s put an emphasis on me leading by example,” said Williams, “so I figured if [my teammates] see me on the boards, they’ll try to crash the boards too.”
They did, as five other members of the team grabbed at least four rebounds and Boston crushed Memphis on the glass by a count of 57-26. Morrison rightfully singled out Williams from that bunch after the second-year big man owned the glass against a talented Grizzlies frontline.
“(Brandon) Clarke and (Ivan) Rabb are two pretty good bigs, and they put up some pretty good rebounding numbers themselves,” said Morrison. “So the fact that Rob cleaned the glass like that in whatever amount of minutes he had is impressive.”
Williams blew past his previous top rebounding total in Vegas, which was nine. He recorded that total Saturday afternoon against Philadelphia. The center also poured in Vegas highs of 16 points and four assists to go along with his dominant rebounding effort. Those four assists were more than the three Williams totaled during his first two games combined. Thursday served as an opportunity for him to showcase a part of his game that has been developing behind the scenes.
“He’s starting to show what a lot of us have seen, which is he can pass the ball,” Morrison said. “We’re just trying to put him in spots where he can make plays, do a little bit more than his traditional package of rolling and protecting the rim.”
Williams, who beamed with a smile while discussing his sudden affinity for dishing the ball, said that he’s enjoying the change of pace on offense.
“I love working out of the high post. I love passing the ball,” he said. “Anytime I get to be a passer, I like it.”
Thursday’s performance certainly put smiles on the faces of Boston’s front office and coaching staff. Williams was solid during his first two games in Vegas and then missed the third due to a right hip contusion. They wanted to see him take a leap and be great, and he delivered against Memphis.
The Celtics outscored the Grizzlies by 20 points during Williams’ 20 minutes of play, which serves as an indication of just how impactful his performance was. Williams was the key to Boston controlling the entirety of the game against one of the better teams in the Summer League.
Thursday was the best Morrison has ever seen Williams rebound. Now the 21-year-old could be in line for another “best ever” performance Saturday afternoon.
Boston’s dominant victory pushed it to the No. 1 seed in the Summer League tournament, all the while pushing Memphis down to the No. 8 seed. The two teams are now scheduled to meet for the second time in as many games when they tip off the tournament’s quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. EST Saturday afternoon.
Safe to say, excitement might lead to Williams having trouble sleeping the next couple of nights. He’s got a chance to one-up himself against the very same crew he just dominated.
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