The Boston Celtics‘ 2020-21 campaign has been littered with injuries. So it’s only fitting they’ll once again be down not one, but two key pieces of their rotation come Game 4 against the Brooklyn Nets.
Robert Williams, who left Game 3 in the first quarter after sustaining a left ankle sprain, has been downgraded from doubtful to out for Sunday’s bout. Joining Williams as an inactive will be point guard Kemba Walker, who’s been ruled out with a left knee medial bone bruise.
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Latest on Robert Williams
Williams, who Stevens dubbed the team’s “wild card” prior to Game 3, has been dealing with a plethora of lower extremity injuries of late. The 23-year-old missed seven games earlier this season with knee tendinitis and continues to nurse a lingering turf toe. It’s become fairly evident that Williams’ ailments have begun to take a toll on him.
“Rob’s doubtful,” head coach Brad Stevens said of his hobbled big man following practice on Saturday, via MassLive. “He probably won’t do anything in the morning and see how he feels as we get closer to game time. But you saw him last night, even in his stint, I thought he looked pretty limited. We’re hopeful to have everybody available, but at least in Rob’s case I’d say that’s probably doubtful.”
Williams set the franchise’s record with nine blocks in Game 1 of the series, but has since logged a total of just 23 minutes. With Williams on the mend, expect Tristan Thompson to shoulder a heavier workload in the frontcourt. The veteran had his best game of the series in Friday’s win, notching 19 points and 13 rebounds. Look for Grant Williams — and potentially Jabari Parker — to shoulder extra minutes as well.
Latest on Kemba Walker
The outlook on Kemba Walker’s availability was a bit more promising earlier in the weekend when he was originally listed as questionable on the team’s injury report.
“Kemba was sore today,” Stevens said of his starting point guard. “I think that he’ll go through stuff in the morning tomorrow and have a better idea on him.”
Clearly, things took a turn for the worse leading up to tipoff, as he’ll now miss his first game of the series. The four-time All-Star originally popped up on the team’s injury report ahead of Game 3 with a left knee medial bone bruise. Walker ultimately gutted it out, playing 34 minutes in the victory, but struggled mightily.
“It wasn’t really Kemba’s night offensively,” Jayson Tatum said of Walker, who shot just 3-of-14 from the field and turned the ball over five times. “But being out there with both groups being engaged, that won’t necessarily show up in the stat book, but we wouldn’t have won without him. Obviously, he’s going to respond. Expect a big game out of him on Sunday.”
The fact of the matter is, Tatum can’t go out and drop 50 points on a nightly basis — although recently, it kind of seems like he can. If the Celtics have any hope of continuing to draw out the series, Walker needs to play like the $140 million star the team pays him to be. Shooting 31.7% from the field and an abysmal 17.6% from 3-point range through the first three games simply doesn’t cut it.
The good news, he’s certainly capable of it. The 31-year-old closed out the regular season scoring 29-plus points in four of his final five games. The bad news, he can’t prove his capabilities from the sidelines.