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Even if the Boston Celtics are holding steady without Robert Williams III thus far, that in no way shape or form means that they wouldn’t prefer to have him back as soon as they possibly could. Fans have been eagerly waiting to see any more updates on his potential return. Head Coach Ime Udoka gave them an encouraging update before Game 2 against the Brooklyn Nets. Yet, at the same time, his update was not one that they should get too excited about.
Since the Celtics are currently ahead 2-0 in their playoff series against the Nets, there is no rush for Williams to get back in action. For now at least. Their 2-0 lead over Brooklyn also provides somewhat of a cushion in case Brooklyn starts making a comeback. If that’s the case, then there will undoubtedly be more pressure on Williams to make a return, but they’ll cross that bridge when they come to it.
Brad Stevens Shares Boston’s Approach to Robert Williams III’s Recovery
Admittingly, Robert Williams III’s health is a pretty large elephant in the room for the Celtics to ignore, so Celtics’ personnel of every kind getting questioned about it should not come as any surprise. Especially when a lot of reports have said that he’s ahead of schedule and is itching to get back on the court.
So of course those in the media will ask questions to the Celtics’ personnel regarding what his status is health-wise. Udoka gave an update on Williams, and Celtics executive Brad Stevens did as well. While Stevens didn’t go into too much detail about how the recovery is going, he revealed how Boston has approached Williams’ recovery long-term.
“He’s progressing really well so I’ll leave it at that,” Stevens said. Stevens then elaborated more on how the team is working to ensure Timelord’s meniscus tear won’t be a long-term issue for him. “With Rob, Rob is a long-term part of us, obviously. With any player, especially if after you’ve had surgery, the amount of the extent of it, you need to make sure they’re not on the floor until they’re ready. And then the minutes are appropriate to what they’re ready for based on how much time they’ve missed.”
In Williams’ case, even though his rehab is coming along, the Celtics haven’t discussed what Williams should expect when’s he cleared to return “We haven’t gotten into the depth of those discussions yet because he’s still progressing through all the rehab stages,” Stevens said.
Celtics Taking the Right Approach with Robert Williams III
Celtics fans aren’t going to like this knowing where the team is currently at, but taking the long road with Williams’ recovery from his meniscus tear is the best way to go about things in the long-term. As much as everyone would love to see the Timelord block shots into the third row or dunk the ball with authority, we have to remember that playing while injured always leaves the player at risk of furthering the damage to the injury, which could potentially ruin their career.
Nets forward Blake Griffin knows this. During the 2018-19 season, he tried to play on an ailing left knee at the end of what was one of his best seasons as a pro. Doing so not only led to countless surgeries that would cut his next season short, but Griffin’s mobility never fully returned because of it.
The same goes for his teammate Kevin Durant when he played for the Golden State Warriors. During that time, Durant suffered a calf injury in the middle of the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets. While Golden State managed to make the finals without him, Durant clearly came back a little too soon when he returned in Game 6. By playing on his injured calf, Durant tore his Achilles tendon not too long after he returned, causing him to miss the next season entirely.
Even the Celtics know this first-hand. Coming into the 2008-09 season, the team knew Kevin Garnett had bone spurs in his knee, but they let him play on it, which led to a season-ending knee injury that also hurt his mobility the following year.
No matter how this season turns out, making sure Robert Williams III won’t be hindered long-term from his meniscus tear above all else is the smart move because of what would be at risk for him if he came back too soon.