Marcus Smart Makes Vow to Celtics After Robert Williams Injury

Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Boston Celtics

Getty Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Boston Celtics

On Monday, March 28, the Boston Celtics took to the floor for the first time since Robert Williams was ruled out indefinitely due to a meniscus tear.

The Celtics ended up falling to a 112-115 overtime loss against the Toronto Raptors, but despite missing a string of first-team talent, Boston played with grit and heart. In fact, if the team had limited their turnovers (they had 17) we would probably have witnessed a well-earned victory.

However, the result was never going to be the storyline of Boston’s game, but rather, how their defense looked without the team’s shot-blocking extraordinaire. It’s safe to say, that despite some clear frailties at times, Boston should be capable of plugging the gaps moving forwards.

Marcus Smart on Playing WITHOUT Robert Williams "We know Rob wouldn't want us to hang our heads"TORONTO, CA — Marcus Smart and Derrick White were interviewed following Boston's 115-112 overtime loss to the Raptors on Monday night. Boston was without 4 of their starters, and the reserves got a lot of run against a tough Raptors squad. "The fact that we did what we did and had chances," said Smart, "That…2022-03-29T03:13:12Z

Speaking to the media following Boston’s loss, Marcus Smart noted how the Celtics have dealt with injury-induced absences all season, and that those previous stints of playing under-manned may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

“I think, for us, the advantage that we have with that is we went through 30-something games without our full roster. We had to learn and adjust to playing like that. That is definitely a hit to us but we know Rob wouldn’t want us to hold our heads and we aren’t going to do that.

We still have other guys that have been waiting for their turn to step up if that’s the case. That’s just what it is. We had the advantage to be able to adjust and play without certain guys. It’s just one of those moments where we have to do it again,” Smart said.

Smart Gets Philosophical About Williams’ Injury

Smart has been here before. On the precipice of seeing his team reach new heights, with the entire world dubbing them championship contenders, only for everything to unravel due to injuries.

It’s been the same story since Smart joined Boston, and a novel that has multiple chapters before the 28-year-old guard was introduced as a primary protagonist. Still, we’ve seen under-manned Celtics teams embrace their underdog status and embark on deep playoff runs before, so why should this season be any different? Especially when there’s still a chance Williams’ will return before the end of the playoffs – how slim that chance is, remains up for debate.

“Everything happens for a reason. That’s my motto. That’s how I grew up. That’s how I was raised. That was instilled in me. I’ve always said that you’ve gotta go through the storm to get to the other side of that rainbow when it’s done.

The safest place in the storm is right in the center. So you can’t run from it, you can’t hide from it. You’ve gotta go right through it. So everything happens for a reason. We don’t know what that reason is, but we can’t worry about that,” Smart told the media.

Last year, Williams missed 12 of the Celtics’ final 17 regular-season games along with two playoff games due to a turf toe injury. Sure, the Lousiana native has grown into a far superior player this season, but it’s not like this roster doesn’t have an idea on how to perform without him in the team.

Udoka to Experiment in Remaining Games

The Celtics have six games remaining in their regular-season schedule, with the final contest set to take place on Sunday, April 10, against the Memphis Grizzlies. Before then, Bost still has to face the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Milwaukee Bucks – all games that will help dictate each team’s final placing within the conference standings.

However, with Boston’s spot among teams with home-court advantage still to be secured, it would make sense for the coaching staff to stick with tried and tested rotations for the remainder of their basketball calendar. Yet, Williams’ injury has somewhat derailed that option, and now, the coaching staff is in a position where they need to begin experimenting with their rotations again.

“Take a look at some different things. Not the night for that (against Toronto) because of all the bodies being out, but just getting those guys the experience out there, as I said, is valuable for those guys and us to take a look at them in those situations.

It will be definitely looking at different rotations and what we like and don’t like, but we kind of know what we had early in the season as far as small-ball lineups, but just to see how Daniel mixes in with Al or possibly Grant [Williams] and look at possibly those combinations,” Udoka said

Ime Udoka: 'We Shot Ourselves in the Foot' | Celtics vs RaptorsTORONTO, CA — Celtics Head Coach Ime Udoka was interviewed following Boston's 115-112 overtime loss to the Raptors on Monday night. Boston was without four of their five starters, but the remaining group fought hard in a tough matchup. "Hell of a job fighting on the back-to-back shorthanded," said Udoka, "But I told him that…2022-03-29T02:42:09Z

Boston does have three winnable games against non-contenders in their upcoming six-game stretch, so one would hope that those are the games where the team decides to try out some funky lineups for short stretches.

So, while Williams’ injury is certainly a cause for concern, his absence does spell disaster for the Celtics’ chances of playoff success, it just means the road is going to be more arduous than first thought. And for a Boston team built on an identity of grit and physicality, the difficulties to come should bring out the best in them.

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