Robert Williams received tremendous praise, and rightly so, for his 10-point, nine-rebound, and nine-block performance on the bench in Game 1 of Boston’s first round game with the Brooklyn Nets. However, he wasn’t the only Celtics reserve to provide exceptional energy in the 104-93 loss.
Jabari Parker also stepped up his efforts and delivered a solid effort of nine points, four rebounds, one assist and one block. In his 22 minutes of action, the Celtics outscored Brooklyn by seven points; without him on the pitch they were outscored by 18. While Parker’s performance flew a bit more under the radar than Williams’, it certainly wasn’t lost on his teammates, who say the wing veteran made a difference by helping to keep them in the game.
“I felt his energy was great,” said Kemba Walker after practice on Sunday afternoon. “His attention to detail, whatever we wanted and talked about in the screening report, he did. And he was awesome.
Walker specifically noted how Parker can be of an offensive threat heading for the basket, which is essential in helping Boston fill the Jaylen Brown void.
“He’s kind of a different threat to us,” Walker said. “He can come down. He can post. He may pass out from the post. He is intelligent. He’s been there. It’s good to have it. I’m happy he had that impact last night because it was a really strong impact. I hope he can continue this.
Parker has often been praised for his offensive impact over the years, but Brad Stevens has also made sure to stress the importance of his defensive presence.
“I think one of the things when you start to think about how you’re going to keep (Kevin) Durant and (James) Harden and the grown-ups and stuff, and obviously (Kyrie) Irving, but we’ve changed a lot. . So obviously Jabari has a real size and he’s long. I thought he did a good job today on both sides.
Seeing Parker perform well in so many areas was encouraging, considering how he has played an unpredictable role since joining the Celtics. At first, Parker played important minutes after his signing in mid-April, as he appeared in six straight games while helping to fill the void of a few injured teammates. However, he went on to record six DNPs over Boston’s next eight games as he recovered some of those healthy bodies.
Then in the last two games of the regular season, Parker found his way back into the rotation. In the penultimate game of the season against Minnesota, he had nine points in 17 minutes. And then in the regular season finale, he burst for a season-high 18 points in 27 minutes.
Those last two games, coupled with a few pre-playoff practice sessions, likely helped Parker feel more comfortable in a system that was entirely new to him. And seeing it bear fruit was gratifying for everyone involved.
“Jabari has played amazingly for us, especially for a guy who is coming for something new to him,” said Marcus Smart. “The chemistry, we try to build with him, it’s not all the way, but he comes in and gives everything he has. He’s learning, he’s a great player and he helped us. We are proud of him and we must continue.
What allowed Parker to spend the last month adjusting to a new team is his unwavering work ethic and balanced approach.
“They always taught me to never be too high, never too low,” Parker said. “The only thing I can control is my effort and hard work. I know good things will turn out this way.
Behind this approach, good things happened for Parker in the first game. And they should keep happening as long as he maintains such a state of mind.