Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, mastermind of the best defense in the NBA over the last two weeks, spoke at shootaround before tonight’s game against the Atlanta Hawks to give an update on the health of two of his best players
Robert Williams is out tonight, but he met with the media at shootaround. That's a sign his injury isn't a long-term or serious one.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) November 17, 2021
Ime Udoka said Jaylen Brown has amped up his on-court work. Brown is out tonight too, but looks like he's getting close to a return.
The news about Robert Williams likely only being out in the short term is extremely welcome, especially as there were reports of him feeling a “sharp pain” in his knee. This injury caused him to sit out the second half of the win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
Williams has had a number of lower-body injuries already throughout his career, it’s a relief that this likely won’t be a big thing. The hope is that he’s ready to go by Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers, but we’ll have to wait and see if he’s ready by then. He’ll have had four days of rest if he is able to return to the lineup on Friday. This season, Williams is having an understated impact with career-highs across the board – 10.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1 steal in a career-high 30.8 minutes on a career-high effective field-goal percentage of 73.4%.
Grant Williams will step in his place tonight to face off against a frontcourt that features a very Rob Williams-like competitor in Clint Capela. Udoka said “we’re comfortable with Grant as the starter” and proceeded to note how they can use his advantage against the Hawks’ small-ball lineup of John Collins at the five and Danilo Gallinari at the four.
Jaylen Brown remains out, but his return from a right hamstring issue appears to be imminent. With LeBron James returning to the lineup on Friday in the Celtics-Lakers showdown, having Jaylen back and healthy would do wonders to a team facing a talent-heavy west-coast rival (even if they’ve underperformed this year).
The Boston Celtics take on the Atlanta Hawks tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST as the team tries to get above .500 with a current 7-7 record.