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Robert Williams was the only Celtics bench player who contributed much of anything in Monday night’s Game 7 loss to the Heat, as he scored eight of Boston’s 16 bench points – eight of 11 if you take out garbage time points for Mike Muscala and Sam Hauser.
So, it came as a bit of a surprise that Williams only played 14 minutes, his second-lowest mark of the entire postseason.
As it turns out, there was a good reason Williams didn’t play more. Stadium’s Shams Charania reported on Tuesday that Williams was dealing with a stomach bug and throwing up during the game.
“I’m told that Robert Williams was throwing up during the game,” Charania said. “He only played 14 minutes last night. He was coming in, then coming out of the game. When he came out, he would throw up. He was dealing with a stomach virus, a stomach bug that he played through. He was sick yesterday. He was sick going into today. He only played 14 minutes. So, that’s a guy the Celtics have depended on a lot over the last couple of years.”
Add in a Jayson Tatum rolled ankle on the first play of the game that hobbled him the rest of the night and a Malcolm Brogdon arm injury that limited the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year to seven ineffective minutes, and it’s hard not to play the “what if” game.
Obviously there’s no guarantee the Celtics would have won with a healthy Tatum, Williams and Brogdon. Plenty went wrong besides those injuries, and it’s not like they even kept the game close. But it is fair to say that they would’ve at least had a better chance if they were closer to full strength.
Injuries and illness are part of the game, though. The Heat had to play the whole series without Tyler Herro (their third-leading scorer in the regular season) and Victor Oladipo (sixth-leading scorer), and they found a way to overcome it.
No excuses. But Charania’s report at least provides some more context for what initially appeared to be a questionable decision from coach Joe Mazzulla.