Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Smart, Pritchard, Offseason

Celtics center Robert Williams endured a painful stretch of playoff basketball after returning from meniscus surgery that sidelined him for the end of the regular season, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Williams expects the pain in his left knee to fade away during the offseason, but he said the sting of losing the NBA Finals will be harder to recover from.

“It don’t stop hurting,” he said about falling short of a title. “Honestly, it never stops hurting until we’re back in this position again. Starting with the beginning of the season. Just got to be better, man. Got to be better. Everyone got to take a step up, add a little intensity to everything we’re doing. But it never stops hurting.”

Williams became a full-time starter during his fourth NBA season and posted career-best numbers with 10.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. The extension he signed last summer will keep him in Boston through 2026 and provide him with a few more chances to chase a title with the Celtics.

Coach Ime Udoka wants to see Williams get stronger heading into 2022/23 to protect himself against further injuries.

“A big part is taking care of your body and staying available,” Udoka said. “Obviously, had to strengthen up his legs, build all the muscle around it to protect his knees. But what I did tell him also was credit for playing through what he did and giving it a go, being out there for us. Now it’s time to rest up, heal up, be ready for next season and come back in better shape, better than you were this year coming into the season.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Even though the season ended in disappointment, players expressed confidence that the team is moving in the right direction after a strong second half surge, per Souichi Terada of MassLive. Marcus Smart reflected on Boston’s ability to turn things around after an 18-21 start. “This is probably our worst series (in the Finals),” he said. “It’s part of it. It happens. It is what it is. But we’re young. Things we went through to get here showed us what we have to come for us in the future. I think that’s why we’re confident about the future.”
  • The Celtics’ moves at the trade deadline created an opportunity for Payton Pritchard, Justin Quinn writes for Yahoo Sports. The second-year shooting guard hopes to carry the experience into next season. “This season’s probably been one of my biggest growths mentally,” Pritchard said. “Starting off the season, it was a different situation. I wasn’t playing at all for like the first 60 games, in and out and then the trade deadline happened and then I got an opportunity to play.”
  • In an offseason preview, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype looks at players the Celtics might target with their mid-level exception and their trade exceptions.
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