BOSTON – When the Boston Celtics’ injury report was posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon, an uproar of hope spilled out in the replies. For the first time this season, Robert Williams’ injury status was changed from “OUT” to “QUESTIONABLE” for Friday night’s game against the Orlando Magic.
On Sept. 23, it was announced that Williams had undergone a successful arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies and address swelling in his left knee, which would leave him with an expected recovery time of eight to 12 weeks.
Friday would mark 12 weeks to the day since that report came out. It seems possible that he could indeed return along with Al Horford, who is listed as “AVAILABLE” after missing the last five games for being in the league’s Health and Safety Protocols and for personal reasons.
Although Williams was not available to speak to the media following Friday morning’s shootaround, Malcolm Brogdon was, and he relayed the excitement that the team is feeling about the impending return of their All-Defensive center.
“I’ve seen him battle every day, trying to get over that injury, and he’s here now so we’re praying for a healthy season for him,” Brogdon said. “He’s going to make a huge impact for us and be great.”
Even though Brogdon hasn’t played alongside Williams before, he remembers what it’s like going up against the 25-year-old big man. And it doesn’t recall it as a particularly enjoyable experience.
“He’s a guy you’re going to put in the scouting report because he’s going to block shots and he’s going to come across (the court to defend the rim),” Brogdon recollected from his days with the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers. “To beat the Celtics, we tried to make extra passes, touch the paint, and make extra passes to shoot open threes, because we knew we were not going to really be able to attack the rim.
“And then offensively, he puts so much pressure on the rim and on your defense, you’ve got to keep the roller in front of you as a defensive team against this team when Rob’s on the floor.”
Brogdon says that he’s had the pleasure of playing with another elite shot-blocker in Myles Turner, whom he believes, along with Williams, are the top two shot-blockers in the league.
However, he claims that he’s never played with a lob threat like Williams and is excited to potentially form a connection, “To play with a guy that can catch lobs, catch anything around the rim, and is a rim threat offensively.”
As someone who has been through his fair share of injuries, Brogdon understands that it can take time to get back to 100 percent full health in both body and mind. He noted that even though Williams is physically ready, there still could be mental adjustments to tackle.
“It’s really a mental thing more than a physical thing,” he said. “Your mind still has roadblocks on it to protect your body even when your body is ready, and that’s just a confidence thing. You’ve got to get back on the floor, get reps, and play minutes to get past the mindset.”
Though just having Williams’ presence back on the court will be a boost in itself for the Celtics, and it shouldn’t take long for him to be back to his All-Defensive and lob-threat ways.