BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are going to need all hands on deck if they want to make any sort of noise against the Brooklyn Nets. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like they’ll have center Robert Williams to start their first-round playoff series.
Williams, who had been dealing with a case of turf toe at the end of the regular season, returned to the Boston lineup for Tuesday’s play-in win over the Washington Wizards. But he collided with Jayson Tatum as he went for a block in the second quarter, and awkwardly came down on his foot. He was down in a heap and sat for the remainder of the first half, and attempted to play again when the second half tipped off.
That lasted all of 71 seconds, and now it doesn’t sound like he’ll be returning anytime soon. Williams did not practice Thursday or Friday, and likely won’t be suiting up for Saturday night’s Game 1 showdown in Brooklyn, as the team announced his status is “up in the air.”
UPDATE: The Athletic’s Shams Charania is reporting that Williams is expected to play on Saturday, according to sources.
The Celtics are already huge underdogs against the two-seeded Nets, and now it sounds like they’ll be without their best rim protector against Brooklyn’s talented hoop attackers Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
Injuries have always been the biggest hurdle for Williams, who is coming off the best regular season of his three-year NBA career. He was able to play in 52 games, making 13 starts, averaging 8.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per contest — all career highs. He’s a ball of energy on both ends of the floor, bringing plenty of bounce whether he’s blocking a shot or rolling to the rim for an alley oop. Things are just different for the Celtics when Williams is on the floor.
Unfortunately for an already undermanned Boston squad, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be around as they try to cut down the Nets in the first round.