Celtics Rumors: Robert Williams III Plans to Return from Knee Injury Friday vs. Magic

Erin WalshDecember 15, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 2: Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics looks on during Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals on June 2, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics will reportedly get a much-needed boost at center this week.

Robert Williams III is expected to make his season debut Friday against the Orlando Magic, per The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania. The Celtics upgraded his status to questionable.

Williams underwent left knee surgery before training camp this year to correct a lingering issue he had been dealing with since the 2021-22 campaign.

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla said during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Zolak and Bertrand on Wednesday that Williams was considered day-to-day:

"He's definitely made huge strides, especially in the last week-and-a-half or so, and so we're constantly kind of measuring how he responds to the five-on-five setting, and then a day off, and then a workout session, and then a day off and then five-on-five.

"So just kind of getting him back into the simulation of what that season is like and then we're constantly seeing how he's responding to it. He's doing a great job. He's making great strides. We'll continue to measure that, and he's day-to-day, but he's doing well."

Williams, Boston's 2018 first-round pick, had a career year during the 2021-22 campaign. After emerging as the team's starting center, he averaged 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 blocks in 61 games while shooting 73.6 percent from the floor. He was also selected to the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team.

With Williams out to start the season, the Celtics have primarily relied on a combination of Al Horford, Luke Kornet and Blake Griffin at the 5.

Horford, who has missed Boston's last five games for various reasons, has served as the starter. In 20 games, the 36-year-old has averaged 10.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 block while shooting 53.7 percent from the floor and 46.6 percent from deep. He is questionable for Friday's matchup because of personal reasons.

Kornet and Griffin have been solid off the bench. In 24 games, Kornet has averaged 4.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 block while shooting 70.1 percent from the floor. Griffin, who has only appeared in 13 games, has averaged 6.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists while shooting 50.9 percent from the floor.

The Celtics enter Friday's game atop the Eastern Conference with a 22-7 record. Led by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, Boston looks primed to reach the NBA Finals again this season.

The addition of Williams should only help solidify Mazzulla's squad as a true title contender.