Celtics Rumors: Robert Williams III to Return from Knee Injury for Game 3 vs. Nets

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 22, 2022

Boston Celtics' Robert Williams III plays against the Detroit Pistons during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 11, 2022, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III is reportedly expected to play in Game 3 of Boston's first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Williams plans to play limited minutes in Game 3 before taking on "a significant minutes load" in Game 4 if all goes well.

Williams has not played since tearing the meniscus in his left knee on March 27.

Even without Williams in the lineup, the second-seeded Celtics are off to a great start with a 2-0 series lead over the Nets.

Prior to getting injured, Williams was having a good year, setting career highs across the board with averages of 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 2.0 assists per game in 61 contests.

Most notably, he started all 61 of those games after starting only 16 games in his first three seasons combined, and he averaged 29.6 minutes per game, which was significantly higher than his previous career high of 18.9 minutes per game set in 2020-21.

With Williams on the shelf, Boston has been starting Al Horford and Daniel Theis in the frontcourt with the star trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart rounding out the lineup.

While Theis is coming off a 15-point performance in Game 2, he is best utilized off the bench, and he will get to move back into that role when Williams comes back.

Williams figures to be a lot for Nets big men Andre Drummond and Nic Claxton to handle at both ends of the floor if and when he returns to the series, plus he will improve Boston's already superb team defense even more.

The Celtics already have the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Smart playing a role in slowing down Kevin Durant, and Williams would present another obstacle.

Brooklyn will host Boston for Game 3 of the first-round series on Saturday, and Game 4 will also be held in Brooklyn on Monday.

While the Celtics are in firm control of the series, the Nets are perhaps the most dangerous No. 7 seed in the history of the NBA playoffs. They could get even stronger with the debut of guard Ben Simmons, which could happen in Game 4, per Wojnarowski.

The Celtics have shown they can thrive and win without Williams, but there is no question they will be a far more complete team and a tougher out if he is able to return against the Nets.