The Boston Celtics will be without starting center Robert Williams III on Saturday night for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, the team announced Saturday night. Williams is dealing with persistent soreness in his left knee.
Towards the end of March, Williams underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and did not return until Game 3 of the team’s first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets. His return lasted only five games, however, as he suffered a bone bruise in the same knee during Game 3 of the team’s second-round series versus the Milwaukee Bucks.
Williams missed the final four games against the Bucks, but was finally cleared to play again for the Eastern Conference finals, and suited up for the first two games in Miami. It’s not clear if something happened during Game 2, or if Williams is dealing with continued pain from the previous injuries.
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In any case, this will be a big loss for the Celtics for however long he remains on the sidelines. Williams doesn’t always put up big numbers, but he’s the best rim protector on the team and blocked five shots in the first two games of this series. Opponents cannot attack the basket in the same way when he’s healthy. On the other end, Williams is a big-time lob threat who gives the Celtics a vertical option around the basket, and an effective offensive rebounder.
Williams is the fourth different player the Celtics have missed for at least a game in this series. Marcus Smart (mid-foot sprain) and Al Horford (health and safety protocols) were out for Game 1, while Derrick White (personal reasons) did not play in Game 2. The good news for the Celtics is that all three of those players will be back in the lineup for a pivotal Game 3.