Rob Williams Ramping Up Practice Activity, Anxious to Return

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics eagerly returned from All-Star break Wednesday evening, though no one was more anxious to be back on the court than Rob Williams.

After being sidelined for nearly two and a half months with a bone edema in his left hip, the second-year big man was finally cleared to rejoin his teammates for their first post-All-Star practice session at Auerbach Center.

“The last time I played was Dec. 6,” a smiling Williams told reporters after practice. “So it's nice being out there with the guys.”

The guys enjoyed having him back, as well.

“He looked good today,” said Jaylen Brown. “He had a lot of high energy and was making ridiculous plays. The important thing is to keep him healthy and keep him consistent these last 20-something games and add him to the rotation.”

The Celtics are hoping that they’ll be able to add him back into the rotation around March 1. In the meantime, he’ll travel with the team on their upcoming four-game trip out west, and he’ll continue to ramp up his on-court activity as time goes on.

Coach Brad Stevens elaborated further: “He'll practice and work out through the rest of the next week or so and then go back for a final scan to make sure that he hadn’t had any negative response to all this extra load. And then from that point on, he'll either be cleared or he won't. So it’s all dependent on how his body reacts to the last six weeks (of rehab), and then really ramping it up this week."

Williams admits that it’s difficult not to ramp things up to 100 percent out of the gate now that he’s been “let free.” But he’s also being smart about his approach as he looks at the bigger picture.

“There's no limitations on anything I'm doing,” Williams said. “I want to windmill every time I dunk. But I've still got to be cautious a little bit, you know what I'm saying?”

As soon as he’s able to push himself up to 100 percent, Williams will be ready to return. Having him back should greatly enhance the Celtics’ frontcourt depth, especially considering that both Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis have been dealing with nagging injuries of their own.

Prior to his injury, Williams had found himself a solid role in Boston’s rotation. During his 19 appearances, he saw an average of 14.2 minutes of playing time and tallied 3.9 points on 67.3 percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds 1.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 0.9 steals per game. His most promising outing was an 11-point, seven-rebound, two-assist, six-block effort Nov. 9 during a blowout win in San Antonio.

Williams is hoping to produce more performances like that down the final stretch of the regular season, but more than anything, he hopes to provide the Celtics with a spark on the defensive end. He claims to have spent a lot of time over the last six weeks working on his timing when it comes to going for steals and blocks, and he hopes that his hard work will translate when he returns to the court.

“I'm getting anxious, knowing I'm just a couple days away,” Williams said in anticipation. “So I'm just staying locked in on this road trip, and we'll all wait for my comeback.”

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