Coming off a heartbreaking defeat in last year’s NBA Finals, the Celtics have been on a mission this season, roaring to a league-best 20-5 record, their best start through 25 games since 2017-18 (21-4). Remarkably, the C’s early success has come without both their head coach, Ime Udoka (currently serving a yearlong suspension), and Robert Williams, who, when healthy last season, was arguably the best defensive player in basketball, averaging over two blocks per game. Fortunately, Boston won’t be without its defensive anchor for much longer, with Time Lord reportedly nearing the finish line in his recovery from offseason knee surgery, potentially returning in 10-12 days, according to league insider Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
“He’s been practicing. He’s made great progress,” said Woj during his appearance on NBA Today. “Don’t rule out the possibility that Robert Williams wakes up one day and decides he’s ready to return.”
Williams first injured his knee in March, missing nine games with a torn meniscus. He returned during the Celtics’ opening-round series with Brooklyn but was hobbled throughout the playoffs, only showing glimpses of the player who starred during the regular season, emerging as one of the most dominant and overwhelming interior defenders in the NBA.
Some wondered if the Celtics, by bringing Williams back before he was fully recovered, risked permanent damage to his injured knee, potentially stunting the development of one of their brightest stars. Only time will tell if that’s the case, but if the 25-year-old is anything close to the player he was in 2021-22, the Celtics—if they weren’t already—will be the team to beat, boasting a stacked lineup of Williams, Al Horford, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, MVP frontrunner Jayson Tatum and Sixth Man Malcolm Brogdon, the latter leading the NBA in three-point percentage (49.4).