This year marked a season of growth for the Boston Celtics. While they ended up losing to the Golden State Warriors, managing to make it all the way to the NBA Finals was an impressive feat, especially considering how poorly they started the season.
Now, they’ll look to improve even more next year. And while some of that improvement could potentially be external, internal improvement needs to be the team’s top priority. And one area that definitely needs to be addressed is health.
Head coach Ime Udoka spoke about the health of Robert Williams during his media availability after Boston’s Game 6 Finals loss. He said that Williams needs to focus on being available more next season by building up muscle around his knees.
“A big part is taking care of your body and staying available,” Udoka stated. “Obviously, had to strengthen up his legs, build all the muscle around it to protect his knees. But what I did tell him also was credit for playing through what he did and giving it a go, being out there for us. Now it’s time to rest up, heal up, be ready for next season and come back in better shape, better than you were this year coming into the season.”
Williams noted that “rest” would be the main key to healing his knee this offseason. And while Udoka stressed the importance of growing and prioritizing his health this summer, he also mentioned how much the big man improved this season.
Udoka Praises Williams’ Improvements
In addition to his comments on Williams’ offseason recovery, Udoka gave the big man credit for the role he played for the Celtics this season.
“Strengthening his body, that’s the main thing in general. We said it coming into the season. He had his highest minutes per game this year. We wanted him to be able to play longer stretches. I think he achieved a lot of things and had a lot of growth on the court,” Udoka explained.
Williams played 29.6 minutes per game this year, which was a career-high by far. His previous career-high was last season when he averaged 18.9 minutes and only started in 13 of the 52 games he appeared in. This year, Williams started 61 of the 61 games he appeared in.
The big man averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.2 blocks per game this past year on 73.6% shooting from the floor. He also made the All-Defensive Second Team.
However, while this season was Williams’ best yet by a landslide, the big man admitted that the sting of losing in the Finals would hurt for a while.
Williams: ‘It Don’t Stop Hurting’
After Boston’s Game 6 loss to the Warriors, Williams was asked about how long the Celtics will let this loss hurt. While he said that Boston will be taking the necessary steps toward improvement, he also said that it won’t stop hurting until they complete their mission.
“It don’t stop hurting. Honestly, it never stops hurting until we’re back in this position again. Starting with the beginning of the season. Just got to be better, man. Got to be better. Everyone got to take a step up, add a little intensity to everything we’re doing. But it never stops hurting,” Williams explained.
Boston’s star big man will be aiming to return next season with a clean bill of health in hopes of leading the Celtics back to the NBA Finals (and beyond).