Despite the fact that Robert Williams III didn’t practice Friday and has yet to practice this week, he’s still expected to see the floor in Game 1 of the Boston Celtics first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets. Per The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania, Williams will see time on Saturday.
“The plan is for him to play this series,” Charania said during Stadium’s playoff preview live stream on Friday. “He’s been dealing with a hyperextension in his toe, and that’s an injury that he’s really gonna have to look at the next couple days, but the plan is for Robert Williams to play.”
"Sources tell me Robert Williams is expected to play in Game 1."— Stadium (@Stadium) May 21, 2021
Our #NBA Insider @ShamsCharania has the latest on the status of Celtics forward Robert Williams.
Watch our Playoff Preview show here: https://t.co/kOFhT5xnbJ pic.twitter.com/oRfbwgFjL0
The Celtics starting center missed five of the team’s final six regular-season games with turf toe on his left foot. And though he did dress and play in Boston’s win over Washington in the play-in tournament’s 7-8 matchup, he reaggravated the injury after falling on Jayson Tatum in the second quarter. Williams started the third quarter but was eventually ruled out for the rest of the game when he couldn’t play through the injury.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Williams did not practice Thursday or Friday and was last designated as day-to-day, which understandably fueled some doubt as to whether or not he would be available on Saturday. Even if Williams does play, it’s likely that he’ll see reduced time in comparison to his usual run. That means more Tristan Thompson, Luke Kornet, and in small-ball lineups, perhaps Grant Williams and/or Semi Ojeleye.
It’s nice to know that, at the very least, Williams may be nearing a return, particularly in a series that could use his presence and leaping ability in the paint. The Nets center rotation — Blake Griffin (sort of), DeAndre Jordan, and Nicolas Claxton — lack the versatility that Williams boasts on either end of the floor. And though those players are the least of the Celtics worries heading into a series against one of the most offensively imposing teams in the league, dominating the little battles can be crucial to ultimately winning the war.
Who knows if that happens, and who knows how involved Williams will be able to be. But having him available at all is the ideal scenario.