When Robert Williams underwent knee arthroscopy at the end of September, there was some pessimism about his return date as the timeline for his return was pushed back from 4-6 weeks to 8-12 weeks.
However, Williams remains on schedule to resume basketball activities within 8-12 weeks, The Boston Globes Adam Himmelsbach reported. That doesn’t necessarily mean Williams will play games before the 12 weeks are up, as the timeline is simply about returning to basketball activities, but Friday marked the six-week mark since he underwent surgery.
Williams also reportedly received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left knee, the same knee he suffered a torn meniscus on Oct. 17 last season.
The Celtics would certainly appreciate the news that Williams remains on schedule to return as their defense hasn’t been as strong in the young season as it was last season when they were the best unit in the league. league. Boston’s defensive rating of 114.1 ranks 20th in the league in its first eight games of the season.
Despite their lackluster defensive rating to open the season, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla noted his team had made some defensive progress ahead of Friday’s game against the Bulls. The Celtics had a 100.5 defensive rating between their win over the Wizards on Sunday and their loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday, which is better than the 106.2 defensive rating they had last season.
“We are number one in defense, by the way, [in the] last two games,” Mazzulla joked. “Nobody asked about it.”
The Celtics’ defense took a step back on Friday in their 123-119 win over the Bulls, posting a 113.9 defensive rating in that game while Chicago shot 51.8 percent from the field.
Still, Mazzulla pleaded for a little patience to allow the defense to grow as the season progressed.
“Defending is something that comes with time,” Mazzulla said. “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, it’s not about effort. Our guys are playing really hard and they want to win. It’s about restoring habits. Restoration of standards. And we have times where we’re not good defensively, where we let go of the rope a bit, but I like the steps we’ve taken in the last two or three games.
The patience Mazzulla pleads for could just be a cue to wait for Williams to return to action. The center was second in blocks per game last season (2.2), fourth in defensive box plus/minus (3.1) and first in defensive rating (102.4). The reserve big men who saw minutes likely as a result of Williams’ injury (Noah Vonleh, Blake Griffin and Luke Kornet) actually hold the Celtics’ top three individual defensive ratings through the first eight games (Vonleh 110, Griffin 111, Kornet 111). Al Horford, who started alongside Williams in the dual roster, has a defensive rating of 116 so far this season, which is the third-lowest among Celtics regular rotation players (Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon are more down).
Boston will return to the field Saturday night against the Knicks in New York. The Celtics will be without Horford, who is struggling with a stiff back after Friday’s win.
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