Robert Williams

Boston Celtics center Robert Williams missed 36 games, but is back healthy and impressed with the young players on the roster. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

 

Though he missed 37 games to a hip condition this season, Robert Williams’ heart remained with the Celtics’ second unit.

And now that they’ve all reconvened in Orlando – including a healthy Williams – the young Celtics big man can notice substantial growth among his younger teammates, and especially the rookies.

Though Tremont Waters is in the latter stages of concussion protocol, fellow rookies Grant Williams, Romeo Langford, Carsen Edwards, Tacko Fall and Javonte Green have apparently had a bubble-sized impact.

“As far as just pretty impressed, I’ll go with Romeo and Carsen,” Robert Williams said after Monday’s practice. “And, as far as the second group, you got that chip on your back, on your shoulder, when you’re playing against the first group.

“So you always want to bring it. I feel like maybe in previous practices, before the season ended, the second group would be getting down on themselves and just stop competing,” he said. “But, now, we’re fighting back. Lot of trash talk, makes it more competitive. Like I said, the second group is just starting to show more effort.”

According to Fall, the second unit is also starting to give the starters a run for their money.

“We have just been bringing it every day, trying to push the guys because that’s what we need, we need to push each other and it really starts with us,” he said. “We’ve got to make it hard in practice so when they go into the game, it’s going to be easier for them. I feel like both groups have been doing that, us and the other group. We just need to keep pushing each other. It’s been great. Every day we’ve been bringing the energy, trying to push each other, and that’s what we really need to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”

As for why he singled out Langford and Edwards, Williams pinned the difference on the natural progression of confidence.

“Just more aggressiveness, more realizing what they’re capable of,” said Williams. “And just leaning on each other, being able to take criticism, all-around game. I’m proud of those guys. I feel like they’ve grown up a lot as far as being on the court.”

SO CLOSE, AND YET …

Beyond the fact he appears to be thoroughly enjoying activities within the bubble, Fall admits to a strange feeling. He’s in Orlando, mere miles from his old home at the University of Central Florida, but might as well be back in Boston for all of the visiting he can do.

“It’s been very weird. I was just talking to my host family not too long ago. They’re upset because they’re right down the road and they can’t even come see me,” he said. “There’s going to be a time when they’ll be able to, hopefully soon.

“But I’m just looking forward to seeing all of them,” said Fall. “It feels great to be back in Orlando even though I can’t go to UCF or go see my host family or my friends but just being back here brings back a lot of memories. I went to high school here, I went to college here, I grew a lot here. I pretty much grew up here. So it’s been great, so I’m just looking forward to when they can come see me and when – if – we can get out, for me to go to UCF and see the coaches and some of the staff.”

WALKER’S RUN

Especially where Kemba Walker’s daily progress is concerned, every little detail matters right now.

“Kemba just flew by us to go to the bathroom, and we all saw his change of direction, his different speeds and he hasn’t lost much,” Coach Brad Stevens deadpanned. “He’s really gotta move. I don’t know if that was in his practice plan or not, but he was flying. So Kemba is getting better, and feeling good.”

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