Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Ime Udoka gives update on Celtics’ Robert Williams serious injury

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The Boston Celtics just wrapped up a treacherous run against the Milwaukee Bucks with a Game 7 win Sunday night. Now they face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years.

Despite their postseason success to date, Boston has been without starting center Robert Williams for most of the playoffs. Williams has played in just five of the Celtics’ 12 playoff games, averaging 20.2 minutes per game.

However, with Boston poised to take on the Heat, who ended the regular season with the highest tally in the East, it looks like Williams will be back in action. According to head coach Ime Udoka, the young center is available in Game 1 and will not have a minute limit.

“Rob is available, just like last night. I mentioned that it would be on an as needed basis. He’s available with no time limit,” revealed Udoka. “You know, I’ll always be a little wary of guys coming off a layoff without touching the court, but it’s a little bit different starting a new series than going into a Game 7 or Game 6 or whatever being injected was the case before. But he’s available, he’s looking better every day and he’s getting more confident.”

Having Williams back should give the Celtics a massive boost. He was a key tooth in their defensive system throughout the regular season and made the biggest jump of his young career.

While Williams’ unique defensive skills were the highlight of his regular season, this year has been a giant leap in terms of playing time. Williams appeared in more games than ever (61), starting in all of them and posting a career-high 29.6 minutes.

Williams put together a season that earned him the Defensive Player of the Year love in those minutes. The 24 year old placed seventh in the voting, receive a first vote and a second vote. Marcus Smart, William’s Celtics teammate, was the eventual winner of the award.

Coach Udoka has put Williams in a unique position to thrive this season. Instead of having Williams guard opposing centers as in the past, the big man on defense was cornered. This allowed him to turn and assist with rides. In return, Williams averaged a career-high 2.2 blocks, which ranked second in the NBA.

While Williams didn’t have an amazing streak against the Bucks (he only played in three games), Miami should be a better matchup for the young center.

Williams appeared in two of the Bostonians’ three games against the Heat this season. The center averaged 8.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks. Boston went 2-0 in the games Williams played in and lost the one game he didn’t appear in.

The young big man helped the Celtics shut down Miami’s offense in the two games he played. In the two games that Williams appeared in, the Heat shot just 36.9% from field and 30.6% from three-point range. Miami struggled with a plethora of injuries in either game, but those numbers are impressive nonetheless.

Whether Williams will return to the starting XI against Miami is not yet clear. Starting lineups will be announced in the hours leading up to Game 1, which takes place Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. EST. The competition can be streamed on ESPN.

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