Brad Stevens Hopeful Celtics Will be At Full Strength Vs. 76ers

Getty Images Celtics hope to see Jayson Tatum and Robert Williams III in Philadelphia this week

For Robert Williams, being forced to stay away from the Boston Celtics due to the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol wasn’t easy.

After a promising start to the new calendar year where Williams averaged 8 points, 8 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.3 steals in his last three outings, Robert’s momentum came to a screeching halt when he tested positive for the coronavirus. Now, speaking to the media for the first time since his diagnosis, Williams is ready to rejoin the team and will be flying with the Celtics Tuesday evening when they make their trip to Philadelphia for their first of an away-and-away set against the 76ers.

“I found out late one night landing and it just went from there as far as the quarantine and stuff,” Williams said. “Staying away from the team, you know, which was a difficult time for me; I’m not going to lie. It’s all I know, it took a toll on me. But, like I said, I’m just happy to be back.”

Robert Williams On His Family Testing Positive For COVID-19: ‘I was More Worried About Them Than I was About Myself’

Elated to be back on the court, Williams is excited to get to work.

“I’m feeling great, I’m really just happy to be back out here with my guys,” Williams said. “The test had me down for a little bit, flu symptoms. But I’m here and I can’t complain. I’m happy.”

While being forced to sit out frustrated Rob, days before his positive test result Williams learned that his daughter and the mother for his daughter were both diagnosed with COVID-19. At the time, Robert didn’t worry about catching the coronavirus.

He admits he was too worried about how they were doing instead of taking the proper measures that would have, maybe, given him a better chance of not contracting the virus.

“A couple of days before I tested positive for COVID, my daughter’s mother and my daughter tested positive for COVID,” Williams said. “So, my focus wasn’t really on myself at the moment. And then, I just found out, maybe like three days ago, my mother tested positive. But, they’re all in good spirits, they’re all doing good but I was more worried about them than I was about myself.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens confirmed Robert is expected to play against the Sixers, barring any other minor setbacks. And while All-Star Jayson Tatum is officially ruled out for Wednesday’s game and won’t be traveling with the team, he’s considered questionable for the rematch on Friday.

“Robert practiced today, he’ll travel with us,” Stevens said Tuesday after practice. “I don’t know if there’s another step that he needs to make to be OK to play. But, I would say he’s likely to play. Carsen (Edwards) and Jayson will not be traveling.”

Now, it’s on the Sixers. Boston will be leaving its 30-point loss in the rearview where it belongs because as Stevens reminded us Tuesday, playing the Sixers (9-5) will be a challenge.

Brad Stevens On Edging Out Philly In The Standings: ‘Surprised I Started The Way They Started’

Brad’s been so impressed with Philly’s play of late, he’s surprised his Celtics (8-4) nearly share an identical record with head coach Doc Rivers‘ Sixers – a team that, unlike Boston, is tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for second place while the Celtics sit atop of the Eastern Conference.

“Sixers are a really good team, they have been for the last few years,” Stevens added. “Obviously, (Joel) Embiid and (Ben) Simmons are special. They’ve surrounded those guys with really good players; the guards are playing great. (Tyrese) Maxey and (Shake) Milton are having a great year. Tobias Harris is a really good player, obviously, and on down the line. They’ve got a really nice team, obviously.

“I was surprised I’ve started the way they started.”

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