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June 1, 2022

Robert Williams

Boston Celtics

Media Day

Q. Ime was talking yesterday about how your reduced minutes in the last round might have actually helped you. Can you sort of talk about that process and just how you felt after each game, especially the last one?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yeah, I feel like the reduced minutes helps obviously because with the injury I had, you know, not being able to take the time off, being such an important part of the season, the minute reduction definitely helped.

Obviously, the couple days between these series helped, too.

Q. How is the pain and the swelling right now?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, it's manageable. Kind of been getting in a routine the past couple games, what I have to go through to have myself ready to play.

Q. You've been through a lot since the surgery. Just the fact that you are at this point now, how does that hit you? What is your impression?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: You know, just grateful, thankful to even be sitting up here getting interviewed by you guys in the Finals. Obviously, like you said, been through a lot of trials and tribulations, a lot of injuries.

Just looking to live in the moment, man, enjoy.

Q. This team makes its bones on defense. How different is the defense Ime asked you to play to what you were playing with Brad the last few years?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yeah, just kind of gave me the role of being a protector, you know, the helper, helping everybody scrambling around.

It was different. You know, I wouldn't say difficult, but it was different because we couldn't see what they were putting together, you know, the coaching staff until we started to prosper with it a little bit, obviously a lot more work to do.

It was a different task. Once everybody bought in, we feel like it worked for us pretty good.

Q. When did you see the team start to prosper with it? Was there a point where it seemed like you guys got it?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: So, when we were blowing leads, going through that drought, we couldn't keep a lead, couldn't win a game. It was just grit, you know, honestly. All of us just fed up, want to win, wanted to find a way to win.

Q. As successful as you are [at] contesting shots and even blocking shots, how do you avoid having that used against you, that aggressiveness on your part somehow getting taken advantage of by an extra pass or whatever?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: You know, obviously I don't avoid it. People still get me with it, being a jumper. But just personnel, locking in, personnel, knowing who you guard, knowing their tendencies. Really attention to detail. Obviously, stuff is happening fast on the court.

But in my opinion just a big personnel deal. If I'm guarding someone who likes to pump fake, someone who isn't an explosive finisher, I got to keep that in mind.

Q. Back to something you were asked about. When things clicked defensively for you guys, did it hit everybody at once? They just realized if they just follow what Ime is telling you to do, this is actually going to work?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yeah, it was just a sense of trusting, trusting Coach Udoka, everybody on the coaching staff, us trusting each other.

We listen. We took criticism from each other. We trusted it. We put the plan together and we seen it working so we stuck with it.

Q. You're a quarterback out there. Just how much did you have to deal with being more vocal, being the guy who is sort of calling the defense?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, being vocal on the court was never really my thing obviously. But, like I said, we had to step out of our comfort zone. I had to take on a different challenge, just being a guy on the back line, like you said, kind of quarterback style, seeing everything. Even just talking to my teammates, letting other people know their voices can be heard.

When Theis is in the game, it's the same thing. If anybody sees something on the court, speak up about it.

Q. Ime wouldn't shy away from giving his opinion if he thought you guys were doing something wrong publicly. That's not something Brad did at all in previous years. How big an adjustment was that for you and for the team?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: You know, as a family, I think of it as you protect in private and you address in public. I'd say both of those guys, Coach Udoka and Brad, they'd address situations for sure.

This one year with Ime, the years I had with Brad, they weren't afraid to step on toes. I feel like they helped make players better.

Q. With Ime specifically, it felt like a lot of times during the year, he would say Rob has to play through pain. You clearly felt that and you heard that. What kind of impact did that have on you?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yeah, bigger expectations, better expectations for me. I’ve got a great relationship with Coach Udoka. I'm one of those guys he can say stuff like that to.

Playing against the Bucks, he looked at me one time and just told me, you've got to stop letting [expletive] run you over; you know what I'm saying? He knows I respond well when he challenges me like that.

Q. Given Golden State's offense, what they might throw at you and discover about you guys game-by-game in this series, do you feel like your defense will be learning some things about itself as you deal with what they do game-by-game?

ROBERT WILLIAMS: Yeah, you know, I feel like that's every game. Obviously, a lot more attention to detail now. You know, everything is not going to be perfect. Maybe players will get shaken up. As long as we bring it back to home, bring it back to core, just stay strong within ourselves.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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