BOSTON — Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka said center Robert Williams will get imaging done Monday morning after sustaining a left knee sprain in the second half of Sunday night’s 134-112 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden.
“Don’t know exactly what happened,” Udoka said after the game. “He said it wasn’t even a specific play that he remembers, but came out of the game, had some pain, obviously went back to get checked out and was in quite a bit of pain, and he’ll get scanned in the morning and we’ll know then.”
Udoka went on to say that, other than knowing Williams had pain on the “lateral side” of his left knee, he didn’t know how long Williams would be out, saying that wouldn’t be determined until after the scans take place Monday.
Williams, who finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and a block in 24 minutes Sunday, has been a revelation this season for the Celtics. After playing a combined 113 games through his first three NBA seasons due to a series of injuries, Williams — who agreed to a four-year, $50 million extension with Boston before the season began — has blossomed into an All-Defensive Team candidate, playing a career-high 61 games and averaging 10 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game while shooting 73.6% from the field.
Williams has been a huge part of Boston’s tear over the past couple months, as the Celtics are now 24-4 over their past 28 games after Sunday’s blowout victory over Minnesota, a stretch that has moved the Celtics into a tie with the Miami Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Boston’s 24-4 record since Jan. 23 is the best in the NBA, and the Celtics are outscoring teams over that period by a staggering 16.4 points per 100 possessions, thanks to posting the league’s best offense (119.8 points per 100 possessions) and defense (103.4). The defensive mark is a full 5.5 points per 100 possessions better than the team in second — the same gap between second and 20th in the league during that stretch.
Following Sunday’s game, the team was set to fly to Toronto, where it will face the Raptors on Monday in the second half of a back-to-back. Williams will not make the trip, nor will fellow starter Al Horford, who missed Sunday’s game because of personal reasons, and Udoka said Horford is expected to miss Monday’s as well.
Udoka also said both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could miss the game, too, after they were both game-time decisions — but ultimately played against Minnesota — because of right patella tendinopathy and right knee soreness, respectively.
Monday’s game in Toronto is the first one the Celtics will play there since the city changed its rules regarding vaccination status for players beginning Jan. 15. Since then, unvaccinated player have not be eligible to play games in Toronto. The most prominent example of this is Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who played his first game in New York City on Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets after the city changed its vaccination laws to allow unvaccinated athletes playing for local teams to play in home games.
When asked directly after Sunday’s game whether everyone on the Celtics, if healthy, was eligible to play in Monday’s game Toronto, the Celtics declined to comment.
After Sunday’s games, the Celtics are a half-game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks in third and Philadelphia 76ers in fourth in the East, while the Raptors are a game behind the Chicago Bulls in fifth and a game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in seventh — putting a first-round series between Toronto and Boston very much in play.
The playoffs are set to begin April 16 and 17, with Games 3 and 4 of the first round — which would take place in Toronto — likely to be the following weekend.