Williams playing catchup

Forward is forced to fight for minutes

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / January 26, 2010

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It’s been hard not to notice how Shelden Williams’s situation in Boston - in which he looked promising when he was thrown into a starter’s role at the beginning of the season - resembles the one he played through as a rookie in Atlanta and last season in Sacramento and Minnesota.

Since Glen Davis returned Dec. 26, Williams’s minutes have been sporadic. The forward-center peaked at 19 minutes the night Kevin Garnett went down with a hyperextended knee against the Clippers in Los Angeles Dec. 29 and the 18 minutes he played against New Jersey Jan. 13 were his most since then.

In the Celtics’ three games prior to last night’s contest at TD Garden against the Clippers, Williams has been a uniformed bystander. DNPs against Dallas, Detroit, and Portland gave him seven for the season and five since Davis’s return.

In the line for minutes, Williams has been pushed to the back - behind Davis, Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Brian Scalabrine, and apparently Bill Walker, who’s recently fallen into favor with coach Doc Rivers.

“[Williams is] coming along,’’ Rivers said. “He’s working. Right now, he’s just got guys in front of him. Right now he’s just not playing a whole lot.

“He’s been a great teammate. We knew that when we signed him, that he would be ready to play when we needed him and if he didn’t he’d still show up and practice hard and he’s done all those things. So a lot of credit has to go to him.’’

As a Hawk, Williams would receive substantial minutes then experience droughts. A year after taking Williams (who played at Duke) with the fifth selection in the 2006 draft, Atlanta grabbed forward Al Horford, adding to a frontcourt in which Josh Smith already roamed. Atlanta coach Mike Woodson acknowledged the team was moving in a different direction - away from Williams.

Things looked promising in Williams’s first few games in a Celtics uniform, including a 10-point, 10-rebound effort in the Celtics’ win over the Bulls Oct. 30 at the Garden.

But in the time he’s spent on the floor (a 12.7-minute average in 34 games) there have been instances in which he’s shown poor hands, mishandling several Rajon Rondo passes and turning the ball over 27 times.

He refused to pin his performances on adjusting to a new team and new schemes.

“As time goes on, it’s been better,’’ Williams said. “Obviously, coming into a new situation, it’s going to take some time to get adjusted and acclimated, but I’ve past that phase already.’’

After a stretch in which the Celtics lost four of five games dotted by a letdown at Detroit, Williams vented his frustrations via Twitter: “Man this is crazy!!!! It’s like everyone is looking for the Staples easy button instead of just doing their job and just play.’’

A win over Portland Friday night settled things down, and Williams said he’ll continue to control the things he can.

“The routine’s still the same,’’ Williams said. “I come in an hour and half before practice, do my work, practice, shoot afterwards. Same routine I’ve been doing since I was a freshman at Duke. When my name is called, may name is called. But I’ll still continue to do the same things I’ve been doing, keeping my work up, keeping my conditioning. Just doing my work.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at

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