The injury bug has plagued the Boston Celtics all postseason long. Three of their five starters have missed at least one game during the playoffs this year: Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and Al Horford. However, while Smart’s and Horford’s issues have proven to be short-term problems, Williams just can’t manage to stay on the court.
Boston’s starting big man missed Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night. After the Miami Heat went up big in the first quarter, Boston wasn’t able to finish off the comeback, falling 109-103 after a valiant late-game effort.
After the game, head coach Ime Udoka gave an update on Williams and his injury moving forward. He stated that there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Williams and that the center will be day-to-day until further notice.
“He’s truly day-to-day, and we’ll see how he responds to extra time off,” Udoka revealed. “It’s due to swelling and soreness and likely to be like that the rest of the playoffs. But we’ve won series and games without Rob.”
Williams has dealt with injuries for his entire career, and they are a big reason why he just managed to earn a consistent spot in Boston’s starting lineup this year.
Williams Career Injury History
In his rookie season, Williams was only able to appear in 32 of 82 games. He started twice but only ended up playing 8.8 minutes per game. That season, a mixture of groin and lower back ailments prevented the center from playing much. However, he wasn’t in Boston’s regular rotation, as both Al Horford and Aron Baynes were ahead of him in the depth chart.
The season after that, Williams took a step back. He only played in 29 of the Celtics’ regular-season games, although he did average more minutes (13.4). Williams battled multiple hip injuries, multiple ankle problems, and a back injury that year.
Williams’ third season saw him begin to earn more playing time, as he averaged 18.9 minutes in 54 games played. His injuries that season included more hip problems and also brought the first signs of his ongoing knee ailments.
Finally, that brings us to the present day. Williams’ just wrapped up his best season to date, appearing and starting in 61 games and earning All-Defensive Second Team honors. However, he still struggled through a multitude of injuries involving his hip, knee, toe, and calf.
The center has played in just seven of Boston’s 14 playoff games this season, and the team has been much better with him on the court.
Williams’ Impact on Celtics’ Playoff Hopes
Although the Celtics are 4-3 during the playoffs with Williams in the lineup, his defensive numbers are off the charts. He has the best defensive rating on the team by a landslide this postseason at 100.3. The next-closest player is Derrick White, who holds a rating of 101.8.
In addition, Williams has been crucial to slowing down Miami’s paint attack. With Williams out in Game 3, the Heat put up 48 points in the paint – the most they’ve scored in a game this series. Plus, Bam Adebayo dropped a series-high 31 points after struggling through the first two games.
Williams’ defensive impact is a big part of Boston’s gameplan, and him sitting on the sideline was a killer in Game 3. And while there’s always a chance he makes a return this series, based on Udoka’s report, it’s not guaranteed.