It wasn’t exactly your typical Robert Williams stat line.
All year, Time Lord has served as a lob threat around the rim and as a protector on the other end of the floor. In his first game back since March 27th and after nearly four weeks rehabbing from torn left meniscus surgery, Williams tallied just one bucket and one block in Boston’s Game 3 win in Brooklyn Saturday night. He had been initially slotted for around 20 minutes in return and finished the game with just over 15.
“The whole day, guys have been hyping me up. I’m just glad to be back out there,” Williams said of the team rallying behind him before the game and celebrating after the alley-oop over Andre Drummound. “OG might be the happiest though. Al (Horford) might be more happy than me.”
Take one more look at that Rob dunk pic.twitter.com/TijwbgadYh— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) April 24, 2022
President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens and head coach Ime Udoka had been hinting at a possible return before the first round of the playoffs was completed, but the party line had been that Williams would most likely come back in the next series had Boston advanced. When asked when he thought he could have returned, a wry smile crossed his face and he said, “right after surgery, if you ask me.” But after a handful of pain-free practices and checking benchmark boxes off in his recovery, he made a surprise return, providing a certain flair to both sides of the ball.
The humble Williams didn’t make a big deal of his early return and instead, voiced his love and admiration for his teammates for grinding through the rest of the regular season, securing the #2 seed, and now, taking a commanding 3-0 lead against Brooklyn. “I’m extremely proud of them. I feel like we’ve done a great job of bouncing back from hitting adversity. We didn’t do a great job of that at the beginning of the season, but I’m proud of the guys and I’m trying to add to that.”
With Game 4 looming and another possible return of another sidelined player that’s yet to play in the playoffs on Monday, expect the Nets to throw everything at the Celtics. Head coach Steve Nash inserted Blake Griffin into the rotation to shake things up and had Durant play center in one lineup. For Williams, despite his often dynamic play and electrifying highlights, the playoffs are just another opportunity for him to help his team.
“I’m really just glad to step back in and play the role for my team that I played before I got hurt, helping those guys out,” Williams said.
ROB WILLIAMS PUT IT ON GLASS pic.twitter.com/fwguGxljlJ— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) April 24, 2022
“Rob was pretty damn good to me,” Jaylen Brown said. “Came back, instant impact with what he’s been doing all year: protecting the rim, had some big blocks, some lobs. It was great to see him catch a lob. It was uplifting for everybody. His presence just being on the floor, knowing he’s behind us, makes us feel good. As we continue to go, we’ll look to him to continue to get his reps and come back strong and looking to make a push.”