Boston Celtics

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."

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

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NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.