Throughout the second half of the season, the story surrounding the Boston Celtics has revolved around their incredible transformation. They emerged as the best defense in the league, Jayson Tatum played brilliantly, and they looked like one of the best basketball teams. But then March 27 also came.
In a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, big man Robert Williams left and did not return. The next morning, it was announced that the center had a meniscus tear and would have to rest for the next 4-6 weeks. However, according to recent reports from several NBA insiders, he may be back on the field sooner than that.
During an April 13 episode of NBA Countdown, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared an important update on Williams’ progress. When asked about whether Williams could return in the first round, Wojnarowski said the possibility was “very real”:
I was told that the possibility that Robert Williams could return in this first series against the Nets was very real. Now, game 6 will fall in a month, only about a month since he had left knee meniscus surgery on March 30. And the thought from the start was, because of the nature of meniscus surgery. this wedge, that he can go back to normal. within that one-month schedule.
Over the past few weeks, head coach Ime Udoka has repeatedly noted that the Celtics are prepared to not have Williams return until the second round. However, both he and Brad Stevens have never completely closed the door on the possibility that he could return sooner. And now, with this report from Wojnarowski, that possibility seems more likely than ever.
Sources say Williams arrived ahead of schedule
Wojnarowski is also not the only one to report this possibility. According to Heavy.com NBA insider Steve Bulpett, who has covered the Celtics and NBA since 1985, Williams’ return could be imminent. During a conversation with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney, Bulpett was asked if he thinks Williams will return against the Nets. He responded with an emphatic yes:
I know, and I think it could come sooner than that, too. Surely he will be ready enough to compete. They didn’t rearrange everything. They took away a problem area. How does he feel physically, pain tolerance – wise, he’s doing pretty well right now. Furthermore, the question is how does he feel, confidence-wise, when he sees the knee? I think you might see him back sooner rather than later.
This is consistent with Stevens’ comment on the April 8 issue of Toucher & Rich. He said that Williams “won’t be on the field until we feel 100% confident and he feels 100% confident that he is ready to play at a really good level.”
Additionally, sources close to the situation spoke to Deveney and Heavy.com, shedding more light on Williams’ situation. They say that, while he is ahead of schedule, his return will depend on what the doctors tell him:
It’s fair to say he’s ahead of schedule. He wants to get out of there but obviously, he has to listen to the doctors about that. But he knows his body well and he knows when he feels right.
Wojnarowski on Williams’ progress
All of these claims have been further supported by Wojnarowski. In that same segment, he said that Williams has met all of his standards so far. He also mentioned that, if Williams does return, it will be the end of the series:
He has continued to make progress. I said he has met all of his standards so far. And there is a real possibility for Boston, a player who plays a lot in any role, along with Marcus Smart, the reason why Boston has been so effective defensively in the NBA this season, could return to play. against the Nets in the second leg of this series against Brooklyn in the first round. That will be a huge boost for this Boston team in trying to get past Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
With a grueling game against the Brooklyn Nets staring them in the face, the Celtics will welcome all the reinforcements they can get their hands on. They clearly have no intention of pushing Williams back, but based on these reports, they may not have to.
https://heavy.com/sports/boston-celtics/robert-williams-injury-update-playoffs-return/ NBA Insiders Share Celtics’ Robert Williams Injury Update