Williams gets comfortable in first Garden game with C's

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Williams gets comfortable in first Garden game with C's

BOSTON For the viewing public, the Boston Celtics' 78-66 win over Miami should have come with a viewers discretion warning.

It was game that was as aesthetically painful to watch as we've seen this season involving the Celtics.

But for ex-Boston College star Sean Williams, it was a night to remember.

It was his first game at the TD Garden, which for this former B.C. standout, created some early moments of anxiety.

He knew it.

So did his coach, Doc Rivers.

"You know he was pressing early," Rivers said.

Said Williams: "You get tired real fast, your legs give out on you real quick everything kind of shuts down when you get out there. But yeah, I caught my second wind in the second half."

Early in the fourth quarter, he made a lay-up that gave the C's a 56-52 lead, their largest lead of the game at that point. He followed that up with a pair of free throws seconds later, showing a much more aggressive, assertive brand of basketball that was absent in the first half.

And don't think for a minute that Rivers didn't notice the change.

"One thing I did like about Sean down the stretch he's competitive," Rivers said. "And you can see that. He wasn't going to back down to anything, got some great blocked shots, so that was good to see."

It was the kind of performance that Williams has the ability to deliver. But only time will tell if he'll get a chance to showcase those skills with any kind of consistency in the playoffs.

While Greg Stiemsma has established himself as the Celtics' first big man off the bench, there's a huge void for a No. 2 big. The C's love Ryan Hollins' energy, but he continues to struggle rebounding the ball.

And with Williams, the C's have a 6-foot-10, shot-blocker who like Hollins, is a high-energy kind of player.

With so little time, it's unlikely Williams can play his way into being a part of the team's regular rotation. But he's already shown the ability to contribute, which is a comforting thought in case Rivers has to tap the fourth-year forward.

Williams, like every other Celtic player, wants to play as much as possible.

But he's not about to start politicking for a role in the rotation, especially coming off of a good, but not great game against a Miami Heat team that kept their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, on the bench.

"I'll let Doc decide that," Williams said when asked about being in the regular rotation. "It's not up to me. I just come here everyday and try to get better at what I do."

Williams added, "I'm just trying to come in here and help these guys reach their goals, getting that 18th ring, that's all I'm focused on."

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."