In a win-or-go-home game in Milwaukee, the Celtics could sure use their starting center back in the lineup on Friday. After giving up 17 offensive rebounds in Game 5 and crumbling on defense in the 4th quarter, a lack of size and rim protection were part of giving up a 14-point lead and subsequently, home court advantage. And now heading into Game 6 down 2-3 in the series, it could be now or never for Robert Williams.
“We’re waiting to hear on how he feels. It’s really a soreness issue. The swelling is gone. It’s a matter of some general soreness. You’re going to have that after some surgery, regardless of the 4-to-6 (week) window,” Udoka said.
“When he was going through his rehab process, he’s going to have a day where he’s a little more sore and then it settles down. Even between the second and third game and the first and second game when we had the three-day breaks, it benefitted him, but when we went to every other day, he had one flare up where it got a little swollen. The swelling went down and now we’re waiting to see if the soreness goes away.”
It’s unclear really how much Williams would even play if was available for Game 6. With him unavailable the last two games, the Celtics have played small with Al Horford at the 5 and either Jayson Tatum or Grant Williams at the 4. Robert Williams has not fared well defending Giannis Antetokounmpo one-on-one, so Horford and Grant Williams have soaked up most of the frontcourt minutes. However, Robert Williams is still a situational weapon against the Bucks; for example, on that missed Antetokounmpo free throw on Wednesday night, the Time Lord would have most likely been in the game to control the rebound.
UPDATE: At today’s shootaround, Udoka shined some light into the source of Williams’ swelling. In Game 3, Giannis Antetokounmpo ran into Williams and Williams subsequently suffered a bone bruise. An MRI scan confirmed no structural damage. Udoka reiterated that the swelling is down, but the Celtics center is still questionable seven hours before tip-off.
UPDATE: Williams has been officially ruled out for Game 6.
Ime Udoka on Robert Williams: "The pain is still there and we're not going to put him out there until he's 100%" pic.twitter.com/XJSVrnJ8m9— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 13, 2022
“I’m disappointed as we all are, but we’re looking out for his health, first and foremost. The pain is still there and we’re not going to put him out there until he’s 100%,” Udoka said before tip-off. Williams is still feeling pain and it’s limiting his movement, but thankfully, it’s not a long-term injury and he’ll be day-to-day moving forward. Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday back in Boston.