As the Boston Celtics get set to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, injuries have lit up the series before it even started. Bucks star Khris Middleton is reportedly going to miss the entirety of the series, and a couple of Celtics starters have some lingering injury concerns as well.
Jaylen Brown is dealing with a tight hamstring. While head coach Ime Udoka has consistently played it off as nothing more than a minor issue, Celtics GM Brad Stevens mentioned that there could be some concern there. He said that Brown’s hamstring is definitely tight, but that he’s already in the process of treating it.
In addition to that, there’s the ongoing injury concern with Robert Williams, who just recently returned from a torn meniscus, which he suffered back on March 27. Williams returned to the Celtics lineup in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, coming off the bench and playing limited minutes.
On the April 28 edition of Toucher & Rich, Steves commented on Williams’ status for the second round of the playoffs, specifically in regard to whether or not he’d be re-inserted into the starting lineup. Stevens kept things straightforward with his response.
Stevens on Williams’ Status as Starter
When asked about whether or not Williams would regain his spot as a starter, Stevens said that decisions like that aren’t his job. He said “that’s not my role, you’re asking the wrong guy,” when asked the question on the show. Evidently, choices like that will be left up to head coach Ime Udoka.
In the two games that he appeared in against the Nets, Williams came off the bench and averaged 15.5 minutes a night. Daniel Theis started in his place, averaging 22.0 minutes per game. Al Horford and Grant Williams averaged the most minutes out of any Celtics big men, notching 32.0 and 29.8, respectively.
Before his two games coming off the bench in the playoffs, Williams had started every game he appeared in during the regular season. Not only that, but his 61 games played (61 starts) marked a career-high for the injury-prone center, who just couldn’t seem to stay on the court through his first few years in the league.
However, even if Udoka does choose to bring Williams off the bench, Stevens said that Williams won’t care either way. After stating that the decision isn’t his to make, Stevens commented on Williams’ character and willingness to do whatever the team needs him to.
Williams’ Team-First Attitude
Stevens would go on to talk about Williams’ amazing attitude. He said that the big man will do anything that’s needed of him in order to win. That’s just the type of guy he is:
But here’s the thing about Rob: He’s a great guy. He’s all about winning and all about the team. He’ll do whatever it takes, starting, not starting, whatever.
Rushing Williams back into action would be dangerous, but with the long break between series, he’s had plenty of time to rest. As the Celtics embark on their series against the Bucks, Williams will be needed more than ever, as they face the near-impossible task of slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo.
With Williams’ innate ability to seek out blocks and help protect the paint at a high level, Antetokounmpo’s life won’t be as easy as it was against the Chicago Bulls in Round 1. That being said, that’s all contingent on Williams’ health, regardless of whether he’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.