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Boston Celtics’ Robert Williams was ‘messing up’ defensively in Maine, plus pre-game notes

BOSTON — Prior to the Boston Celtics’ matchup against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, Celtics rookie Robert Williams offered an honest assessment of his defensive performance with the Maine Red Claws the night before.

“Felt good just to get out there and play and run,” Williams said. “I was (expletive)ing up on defense a lot. Just messing up on reads and stuff.”

The Red Claws, Boston’s G-League team, started five players on NBA contracts on Thursday — Williams, Brad Wanamaker, Guerschon Yabusele, P.J. Dozier and Walt Lemon Jr. Lemon and Dozier are both on two-way deals.

Williams’ most impressive highlight was a blocked shot. With 10:55 left in the second quarter, he came from the weak side and sent a jumper flying.

The play briefly set Celtics Twitter buzzing, since Williams’ reach looked so ridiculous.

“It was just a block,” Williams said. “Just instinct. I was going for too many of them though, that’s one of the things I was messing up on. That’s why I’m down there.”

Celtics GM Danny Ainge stopped by Williams’ locker before the game and appeared to be demonstrating how to do something. Williams said Ainge was showing him how to seal.

“It’s nice to get the pointers he’s giving, knowing he knows the game,” Williams said. “It’s obviously helpful, because I want to work on things like that.”

Other pre-game notes:

– Raptors coach Nick Nurse seems similarities between Toronto and Boston.

“Like us, they’re still working their way through to who they’re going to be,” Nurse said. “They know our tendencies I think from seeing them so much. And we know a lot of their guys’ tendencies. And I thought one of our keys to our win the first time we played them is we did a good job of taking away some of the things that certain individuals really like to do. And we’ll see if we can do that again.”

– Marcus Morris is expected to be available, after missing Wednesday’s game against the Bulls with an illness.

– The Raptors will start Serge Ibaka in place of Jonas Valanciunas. 

“I mean, Siakam, Anunoby, Leonard — these guys are super super athletes that are long and extremely versatile, extremely hard-playing,” Brad Stevens said. “I think this is a heck of a team. And I think, on both ends of the court, they play to those guys’ strengths. Like, Siakam is great at busting out in transition and leading the break, he’s great at running the floor, but he’s also been really good in spot-up situations and in cutting off of others. Anunoby, same thing. Then Leonard’s obviously Leonard. He’s just — he’s outstanding.”

The Celtics and Raptors tip off at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

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