The Boston Celtics announced that Robert Williams will miss tomorrow night’s game against the New York Knicks with a left hamstring strain. Williams left the game in the second half of last night’s collapse against the Brooklyn Nets after coming up hobbling after jumping at the rim. Malcolm Brogdon missed the game with a right ankle issue, and he’s questionable for tomorrow.
Robert Williams has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game against the Knicks with a left hamstring strain. Malcolm brogdon (right ankle soreness) is questionable per the Celtics.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) March 4, 2023
Boston had a good run of being healthy (a whole week!), but unfortunately, the need for depth continues to rear its head. Williams hasn’t exactly been the otherworldly force he was last year, but he still is incredibly effective and has had a positive impact on Boston lineups. The Celtics started off as a red carpet on defense this year, but Williams’ return propelled them back to elite status on that end.
Against the Knicks on Monday – a game in which the Celtics couldn’t buy a 3-pointer and Tatum was still in his post-ASB slump – Williams wasn’t incredibly effective. Joe Mazzulla decided to go smaller as the Celtics tried different defensive tactics to contain Julius Randle (23 points) and Jalen Brunson (17 points). Even Immanuel Quickley got in on the action with 23 points of his own. The Celtics will have to be much more effective in their one-on-one defense, and they’ll have to do a better job of timely doubles that put the defense in rotation. This gets a lot tougher without Robert Williams guarding the paint.
Derrick White has played in every game so far this season, and he’ll continue to get significant minutes whether or not Malcolm Brogdon can play. With Robert Williams sitting out (no word on if this absence will extend past just Sunday), Mazzulla will likely go to either Grant Williams or Derrick White for the fifth starter spot. Given that Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle are in the opposing frontcourt, it’s likely that Grant Williams or even Mike Muscala will get the call.
Obviously, it would be preferable if Brogdon can go as the Celtics look to avenge their loss to New York from last week. Boston has fallen behind by 1 game for the best record in the league as Milwaukee has gone on a 16-game winning streak. If they lose tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Celtics can win tomorrow night against a New York team that’s rattled off 8 wins in a row, Boston may regain some healthy momentum as March progresses.