Stevens Delivers Promising Health Update on Walker, Williams

BOSTON – To Brad Stevens, it appeared as though Rob Williams had “a little extra bounce in his step” during Friday afternoon’s practice at Auerbach Center. The reason being that the sophomore big man had just received clearance to return to game action after missing nearly three months with a bone edema in his left hip.

“You can tell, he’s been antsy to go for a while now,” the Celtics’ head coach told the media. “So we’re happy that he’s going to be able to be back.”

Williams first returned to practice last Wednesday, just before leaving with the team for Minnesota. He gradually ramped up his activity throughout the weeklong road trip with the hope of being cleared in time for Saturday night’s home matchup against the Houston Rockets.

Having achieved that goal, Williams could provide a nice boost for the Celtics in a limited capacity against a fast-paced Houston team that beat the Celtics by double digits just before the All-Star break.

“Rob’s a pretty mobile guy,” Stevens said, looking ahead to Saturday night’s matchup. “He can move with guards and wings, so he may get some minutes tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes.”

Stevens anticipates that Williams’ minutes will be heavily restricted for at least a couple of games, as the 22-year-old big man works his way back into game shape. “But it’s great news, obviously,” the coach said of having Williams back in the rotation. “We’re excited, nobody more so than Rob.”

With Williams returning, Boston is just one body away from being 100 percent healthy. Kemba Walker, who has been dealing with nagging left knee soreness, is the only injured Celtic remaining. Though he, too, appears to be just a few days away from returning to action.

“I think the plan of attack is for him to go harder in the morning, maybe even ramp it up Sunday and then go from there,” Stevens said. “So hopefully back by Tuesday (against Brooklyn), but out for tomorrow is what I’ve heard last.”

Walker’s knee soreness has forced him to miss eight games since the middle of January, including the entire four-game trip that his Celtics just completed. Stevens is not overly concerned about the injury, but also wants to make sure that his star point guard is feeling 100 percent healthy before returning to the court.

“The goal is to have him feeling great,” Stevens said. “Not just be ready, but feeling great. And so, when he gets back, you’re not doing the back and forth as much of sitting a few. Now, if he were to come back next week, I don’t anticipate him playing the (full) back-to-back (against Brooklyn and Cleveland). But I do think that once he gets back on the court, it’s because he feels great.”

When that day comes, the Celtics will likely be feeling great as well. Because now that Williams is finally back, the Celtics are just one sore knee away from being 100 percent healthy.

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