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Report: Robert Williams targeting Game 3 return

Williams has been out since getting hurt on March 27

NBA: Utah Jazz at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics managed to take a 2-0 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets without starting center Robert Williams. Now, Williams’ return might be right around the corner per Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Williams was injured late in a game on March 27 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was later diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Williams underwent a successful partial left knee meniscectomy on March 30.

Following surgery, the Celtics said Williams’ timeline to return was 4-6 weeks, depending on his rehab. Boston also shared that Williams would not be ruled out for the entirety of the playoffs, nor even the team’s first round series, because of this timeline.

Both head coach Ime Udoka and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens left the door open for Williams to return sooner than the original 4-6-week timeline. The day after surgery, Stevens said Williams “looks and feels great” and was already back in the Celtics facility for rehab.

In recent weeks, Udoka has echoed that message, while sticking to the original timeline, but always dropping the caveat of “but sometimes people do return sooner”. Earlier this week, Udoka shared that Williams had progressed to 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 work with contact.

Despite winning the first two games over the Nets, the Celtics have still missed Williams. Al Horford has had to log extended minutes, and Boston has struggled at times on the defensive boards and with interior defense.

Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday, April 23. That is three-and-a-half weeks from Williams’ surgery. Game 4 is scheduled for Monday, April 25, which is nearly four weeks from Williams’ surgery date. If necessary, Game 5 is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 in Boston, which would be exactly four weeks from surgery for Williams.

UPDATE: According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “barring a setback, (Williams) intends to return in limited minutes for Game 3.” He’s been pain-free in back-to-back 5-on-5 practices and if all goes well on Saturday night, he could take on a larger load for Game 4. Wojnarowski is also reporting that Ben Simmons is targeting a Monday return for the Nets.