It appears Robert Williams III will be ready to go for Game 4 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Williams, who had been out the previous game because of knee soreness, is likely to play in Game 4.
Doing so means the Boston Celtics are guaranteed to have most of their normal starting lineup available against Miami. While the jury is still out on Marcus Smart’s availability with his ankle injury, having Williams available may do wonders for the Celtics in the frontcourt knowing how dominant Bam Adebayo was in the one game where Williams did not play.
Adebayo’s Game 3 statline of 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and four steals was a vast improvement from his previous two statlines combined in the conference finals. In Games 1 and 2 combined, Adebayo put up 16 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, and no steals, although he blocked four shots in Game 1. Him playing that much better in Game 3 with Williams absent demonstrates how big of a difference Williams makes in this series.
The only question is whether Williams has put his rampant knee issues behind him or if he’s still going to be on a day-to-day basis from here on out.
Adrian Wojnarowski Provided Earlier Update on Williams
Before Shams confirmed that Williams would be ready for Game 4, Wojnarowski reported earlier on May 23, 2022, that there was “optimism on Williams returning to the lineup.”
That knee I think is going to be a game-to-game endeavor through the whole postseason. How he feels having played, how the recovery takes shape for him, but I think right now there’s some optimism he can get back on the court. They really missed him against Bam Adebayo. You saw (Bam) go to work on Boston. There’s optimism on Robert Williams.
Judging from the reports from both Charania and Wojnarowski, it sounds like Williams’ knee issues are not too big of a deal yet are still nagging enough that there’s no way to tell if he’ll be able to play for consistent stretches throughout the rest of the postseason. The Celtics will know more about his knee going forward after Game 4 if and when Williams takes the floor.
Boston’s More Optimistic About Williams than Marcus Smart
Charania’s report that Robert Williams III is likely to play in Game 4 will put Celtics fans at ease. Wojnarowski’s report not too long after Charania’s will undo that relief. Wojnarowski reported that the Celtics are more optimistic about Williams availability for Game 4 than they are about Smart’s.
If Smart is out for Game 4 of the conference finals, that will be a hard obstacle for the Celtics to overcome given the circumstances. Boston has proven that they are capable of winning without Smart in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. However, they’ve only managed to win one of the two previous playoff games Smart has not played.
After Smart was deemed out against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 the 2022 Eastern Conference Semifinals because of a quad injury, Boston came out victorious, winning 109-86. When Smart was deemed out again in Game 1 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals against Miami because of a midfoot injury, Boston lost 118-107.
The silver lining is that Boston also did not have Al Horford in that game. Boston could beat Miami without Smart, but they’ll need more contributions across the board for that to happen.