According to head coach Joe Mazzulla, Robert Williams could be in line to make his return to the Boston Celtics rotation ‘in a week or so,’ as he continues to ramp up his recovery from a hamstring injury.
“Still on the timeline,” Mazzulla said Wednesday. “Hopefully, within the next week or so…He responded well to the workout yesterday. Today was a lighter day for him.”
Williams hasn’t been seen on the court since the Celtics' March 3 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, with his presence around the rim being missed on both sides of the floor. Since being ruled out with injury, the Celtics have gone 3-and-3, with losses against the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, and Houston Rockets.
The Celtics have played 70 games this season but have only had Robert Williams for 28 of them. Williams missed the first 29 games of the basketball year as he recovered from arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies around his knee following an earlier procedure due to a torn meniscus.
When on the court, Williams has been an impactful rim protector but has looked some way off the fearsome defender we saw last season, partially due to a need to rest him on back-to-backs. Hopefully, when Williams returns from his latest setback, he can begin to build a rhythm and find his best form so that he can be an impactful member of the rotation once the postseason gets underway.
Unfortunately, this will be the second straight season Williams will be entering the playoffs while trying to find the best version of himself and build on his fitness, after returning in Game 3 of the first round against the Nets before missing the final four games of the second round against the Milwaukee Bucks, and sitting once against the Miami Heat, while never looking like himself.
It will also be interesting to see if Mazzulla goes back to a double-big lineup once Williams is back up to speed or if he will opt to stick with a single big, as he has been for the majority of the Celtics road trip thus far.
A tentative return for Williams could come on Friday, March 24, when the Celtics face the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden, which would be a considerable boost when facing Myles Turner, who has been having an impressive season in his second year under Rick Carlisle.