The Boston Celtics dropped yet another crucial game on Friday — a 22-point loss at the hands of the Chicago Bulls. Of course, being down two starters on the night certainly didn’t help the C’s cause. While Kemba Walker, who dropped a season-high 33 points, helped supplement some of the missing scoring punch usually provided by All-Star Jaylen Brown, the team had far less success emulating the production of Robert Williams in the frontcourt.
Thankfully, Brown is expected to return from a sprained ankle on Sunday in time for the first of two pivotal matchups against the Miami Heat over a three-day span. With that said, the pending availability of Williams sounds far less promising.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Celtics!
Stevens Gives Update on Robert Williams’ Injury
The next two games against Miami could very well determine the Celtics’ play-in fate. Two games during which the team may ultimately be stripped of Williams’ services. Head coach Brad Stevens has gone on record claiming that the young center’s availability for next week is “uncertain” due to a turf toe injury, per The Athletic’s Jay King.
“It’s not ideal,” Stevens told reporters of Williams’ injury, later detailing that should the 23-year-old ultimately give it a go over these next handful of games, the prognosis will likely only grow worse.
“Turf toe’s an interesting (injury), right?” he said. “For anybody who’s ever had it, it’s a nuisance. It’s a difficult thing to deal with. He’s meeting with specialists and figuring out the best method of attack. He almost sat out Wednesday. It’s one of those things that you can play through, but the pain is pretty significant and I think that each time he plays, it’s gonna feel more and more.”
Celtics’ Frontcourt Depth
In Williams’ absence, Tristan Thompson drew the start, logging 27 minutes on the night. The veteran big-man produced his typical stat line, bringing down 10 boards and scoring eight points on 3-of-7 shooting. Yet, it was behind Thompson where the Celtics truly felt the negative repercussions of Williams’ unavailability.
Luke Kornet played 10 minutes vs. the Bulls, during which the team was outscored by six points. Stevens turned to Tacko Falls in the second half. However, that lasted all of six minutes before he was sent back to the bench. The eventual decision to go small-ball with the insertion of Grant Williams had its moments, but also its limitations.
“Obviously, I think they played really well, and we did not shoot the ball well, and it kind of went from there,” said Stevens. “But they are a tough matchup for us. Their size and length is an issue.”
It certainly didn’t help Boston’s case that all of this was occurring with old friend Daniel Theis putting forth his reliable everyday production for the opposing team. The former Celtics starter posted nine points, eight rebounds and one steal in 29 minutes. Since being dealt to Chicago at the deadline, Theis has seen an increase in points, rebounds, assists and steals compared to his numbers with Boston earlier this season.
Of course, it’s easy to look back at the Theis deal and pick it apart now that the team is ailing in the frontcourt. The fact of the matter is, the Celtics have just five games remaining to prove their playoff worth, and they’ll need to do so with the players they currently have at their disposal.
“I believe in our guys,” Stevens said. “And we’re just gonna have to find the right fit while Robert’s out, depending on the matchup.”