The Boston Celtics pulled off a huge win against the Phoenix Suns on New Year’s Eve. Only eight players touched the floor, but each of them made a big impact. However, when it was all said and done, it was Robert Williams who stole the show.
The 24-year-old recorded a 10-point, 11-rebound, and 10-assist triple-double while shooting 5-for-5 from the field. He also chipped in five blocks and two steals. Williams is the first player in NBA history to record that stat line while shooting 100 percent.
There was nothing but praise for Williams after the game. Head coach Ime Udoka spoke about his potential and how much work Williams has put in so far this season.
“He’s more than people think he is. I talked to him about expanding his game with the role, the minutes, everything increasing. And what we see is a high, high ceiling for him for a lot of different reasons… He’s been a guy that’s been resilient and bounced back every time I’ve challenged him and I love that about him.”
Udoka called out Williams after a recent loss to the Timberwolves for some lackluster defensive positioning. Based on how Williams responded against the Suns, it seems he took that criticism well. When he wasn’t recording blocks, he was making life extremely hard for a Phoenix team with one of the best offenses in the NBA.
Jaylen Brown also made sure to compliment Williams after the game. He said that the big man often puts a lot of pressure on himself, but when he’s truly at his best, there aren’t many that can challenge him.
“Rob is great, man. Rob is exceptional. I think he’s a really talented player. I think at times he puts a lot of pressure on himself, similar to me, in a sense. But when he comes out and plays basketball there’s not a lot of people who can contain him… I tell him all the time: don’t be afraid to be great.”
The man himself also took time to speak to the media after the game. He thanked his teammates for helping him get his first career triple-double, but also mentioned that he was happier the team played a full 48 minutes.
“Thanks to my teammates. If they didn’t hit shots then I wouldn’t have it [triple-double]. Overall, man, I feel like we played a good game. I’m more happy about that. I feel like when we started hitting a little adversity, third quarter, early fourth, we stayed together.”
He was also told about Udoka’s postgame comments during his interview. He talked about how appreciative he is that Udoka pushes him every day and what an honor it is for his coach to speak that highly of him.
“He believes in me a lot. I guess he sees something in me I don’t. I’m thankful for the way he pushes me every day, trying to get that out of me. It’s an honor to have him talking like that. But obviously, it’s more I have to achieve if my coach feels like that.”
Williams is the first Celtics player to record a triple-double this season. After a three-game losing streak, he helped the C’s ring in the new year the right way. Hopefully, it’s a good sign of things to come.