Boston Celtics

Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics dunks the ball against the Brooklyn Nets in the first half at Barclays Center on February 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

The Celtics have always stuck to a timetable of 4-6 weeks for center Robert Williams III to return. A new report suggests that they could get Williams back sooner than anyone expected.

According to Shams Charania, Williams is “close to a return” and could play in Game 3 on Saturday or Game 4 next Monday, April 25. Saturday would mark about three and a half weeks since Williams underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus on March 30, so in that case he’d be back on the court surprisingly soon. Monday would still be under four weeks.

The news comes after Charania reported earlier this week that the Nets are targeting Game 4 for point guard Ben Simmons to make his season debut.

Boston is up 2-0 in the series after coming back from down as many as 17 points in Game 2 on Wednesday at TD Garden. They’re 40-1 all-time in playoff series when they win the first two games.

UPDATE: Woj bomb! Adrian Wojnarowski followed up on Charania’s report with his own tweet saying that Williams “intends to return in limited minutes” in Game 3 on Saturday. Woj couched his report by saying Williams will return “barring a setback.”

  • Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens insisted that Williams’ timeline hadn’t changed when he spoke to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich on Thursday. But he did note that Williams was “progressing well” and credited Celtics medical staffers for maintaining a strict, detailed plan for the center’s rehab since the surgery.

    “This whole thing has been mapped out minute to minute since he started his rehab, and when to hit what milestones, and then he’ll be ready to go if he hits them all and clears them all, after that,” Stevens said. “These experts that we have in the building are really, really good, and then it becomes a process of constant feedback from Rob, constant communication from everyone in the building, before he’s ultimately cleared.”

    Stevens did acknowledge that the C’s and Williams were taking the whole process one day at a time, despite the mapping out of the whole process. So if Williams ends up returning in Game 4, or even Game 3, that would mean he reached his milestones even faster than the team originally anticipated.

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  • Perhaps the first sign that Williams could return this weekend was that head coach Ime Udoka told reporters on Thursday he’s traveling with the team to Brooklyn for Games 3 & 4. However, Udoka didn’t want to hint at the possibility of Williams actually playing.

    “This is a time of year we want him around the team camaraderie-wise,” said Udoka, who added that his 4-6 week timeline is “looking good.”

    Charania apparently caught a sniff of the possibility that Williams is traveling because he could play. The more you think about it, the more ridiculous it seems that the Celtics would have a rehabbing player travel for mere camaraderie purposes.

  • Game 3 between the Celtics and Nets takes place Saturday night at the Barclays Center, with an expected start time of 7:30 p.m. ET. You can get the call of the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub, starting with pregame coverage at 7.