The schedule for the Celtics‘ first-round matchup with the Nets increases the chances that injured center Robert Williams will be available before the series is over, writes Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston.
The series will open Sunday, with two off days following Game 1 and Game 2. Hartwell notes that Williams was given a four- to six-week prognosis when he underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee on March 30. The reports on Williams’ progress have all been positive, Hartwell adds, and the four-week mark will be April 27, which is the night of Game 5.
Coach Ime Udoka gave another encouraging update on Williams after today’s practice, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. “Doing a little bit more every day. He’s looking good,” Udoka said. “We’re happy with the progress. He’s out on the court. Doing some shooting drills, some touch work. We’re still preparing for a series without him.”
There’s more from Boston:
- Nets guard Bruce Brown made headlines with a statement about the prospect of attacking the Celtics without Williams in the middle, but Udoka has confidence in Al Horford and Daniel Theis to protect the basket, per Brian Robb of MassLive. “We still have two high-level defenders back there, big guys with Daniel and Al, and we have layers to our defense,” Udoka said. “… Obviously we played quite a few games without him now and have done good enough beating some good teams.” Boston went 4-3 after Williams got hurt, but Robb points out that several starters were rested in two of those losses.
- Kyrie Irving has been a villain in Boston since he left the city as a free agent in 2019, but that animosity doesn’t extend to Celtics players, according to Souichi Terada of MassLive. Jayson Tatum said Irving was very helpful during his rookie season, adding that Irving has shared some regrets over what happened in Boston. “We’ve talked and there are some things that he probably told me he wished he would have done differently,” Tatum said. “But I think that’s a part of life. No one is perfect, you just got to move on from it as you get older.”
- Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston examines how Marcus Smart has thrived as a point guard after Udoka allowed him to play that role on a full-time basis for the first time in his career. Smart, who received a four-year extension during the offseason, has become an on-court leader and is in the mix for Defensive Player of the Year honors.