Just because something briefly gets better doesn’t mean it can’t get worse.
Per Brad Stevens, the Boston Celtics will likely be without Kemba Walker and Robert Williams for Sunday night’s Game 4 contest against the Brooklyn Nets, a vital game in this first-round playoff series. Walker is listed as questionable, while Williams was downgraded to “doubtful.”
Williams landed awkwardly on his ankle in the first quarter of Friday’s Game 3 win. He was subsequently ruled out after playing just six minutes off the bench. Williams has also been dealing with turf toe, an injury that plagued the last few games of his regular season, as well as through the playoffs thus far.
Earlier, SNY’s Ian Begley reported that Walker was listed as questionable ahead of the game due to a bone bruise in his left knee, but is unlikely to play. Brad Stevens told reporters earlier today that following the team’s morning workouts, they’d know more. Apparently, what they learned wasn’t exactly something positive.
Kemba Walker (bone bruise, left knee) is listed as questionable for Game 4 of Nets-Celtics. Brad Stevens told reporters that Celtics would know more about Walker's status after morning workouts today. Following those workouts, Walker is unlikely to play in Game 4, per sources.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 30, 2021
The Celtics stormed back into contention in this series with a raucous 125-119 victory on Friday night, making this otherwise lopsided series 2-1 in favor of the Nets. Though Jayson Tatum was the story of the game, having scored 50 points for the fourth time in 22 games, it was basically vital that he do so, given that Walker was unable to provide any sort of offensive punch. He played through the injury and finished with a mere six points on three-of-14 shooting from the field, offering a goose egg from beyond the arc on seven attempts.
Marcus Smart (who scored 23 points on eight-of-11 shooting in Game 3) should be his likely replacement as the starting point guard, and though Payton Pritchard could receive a bit more time off the bench, the rookie just hasn’t seemed to find a groove in his first playoff run. He’s played a mere 26 minutes in this series and scored two points, so perhaps his run remains limited and Brad Stevens’ approach becomes replacement by committee.
As for Williams, that burden will likely be handled by Tristan Thompson, who capped off his best game in a Celtic uniform with 19 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3. As opposed to the regular season option of Luke Kornet, Grant Williams was the one to see a bigger role with Williams out.
The Celtics will need all the help they can get tonight; conveniently (and ironically, given this unfortunate turn of events), it’ll be the first time since early 2020 that Boston will welcome close to 17,000 fans back into TD Garden. Game 4 tips off at 7 p.m. ET on TNT.
UPDATE: Both Walker and Williams have been ruled out tonight: