BOSTON. Robert Williams III had both good and bad days.
On March 30, the Boston Celtics big man underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee. He returned to action in Game 3 of the first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets just under a month later.
Since then, he has been considered a questionable player before every game he appeared in in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
His availability was not a defensive strategy to drive back opposition. Team officials are legally unsure if he will participate in matchdays.
Williams III fights courageously, overcoming great pain.
“I honestly take it day in and day out,” Williams III told Yahoo Sports. “I can feel good right now, and then the next couple of hours it’s pretty painful. I try to do it day in and day out as much as I can.”
The 24-year-old is having a breakthrough season. He pinned the best defense in the league with 2.2 blocks per game, placing him fourth in the league, and he was awarded second team in all-around defense.
Now with his team one of the last two standing and the Golden State Warriors winning 3-2 in the series, Williams III is out of his element. He hasn’t been around since he got back. His postseason average is 22.3 minutes, seven minutes short of his regular season average.
You can see how hard he works as he runs up and down the court. Sometimes he will shake his left knee after he takes a hit or changes direction abruptly and bends down for a minute, hoping the pain will subside enough to keep moving.
He’s come so far, but he can only go so far. This disappoints the defense star.
“It really hurts me,” Williams III told Yahoo Sports. “This is hard to deal with. When I’m on the field, adrenaline and energy take over, so I don’t really think about it during games, but it certainly affects me a lot.”
It’s a strenuous process between games to get him to a level of comfort where the pain is tolerable during game days. He calls the current system “boring” and “monotonous”.
“Icing, deep tissue massage, treatment, wait three to four hours, and then start the process again until [it’s time to sleep]” Williams III told Yahoo Sports. “Usually the same routine. Maybe some BFR [blood flow restriction training] here and there, but usually the same ritual.”
But that’s not all Williams III went to in form for the playoffs.
Williams’ knee was repeatedly debilitated during the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
“My knee was really debilitating in the last series,” Williams III confirmed to Yahoo Sports. “I stopped draining it because, in my opinion, it didn’t make sense. My knee continued to fill with fluid. So I sort of learned to control it so I could play.”
The medical staff assured him that he was not at further risk of deterioration of the repaired knee. It’s all about pain tolerance.
“We’ll take what he can give us,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka told Yahoo Sports. “If he can leave, we will monitor him accordingly. If he can’t go, we’ll understand. Rob is a fighter. That’s why we love him.”
Williams III had moments in the finals where he was flying all over the place blocking shots and sometimes he was hobbled around.
Some wonder if it is even worth subjecting his body to such torment, and to this he has an objection.
“Hell, we’re trying to win,” Williams III told Yahoo Sports. “It’s crazy. I’m living my dream right now. Obviously, it would be better if we won, but my whole business is responsibility for my team. Let them know that I’m here, no matter what, and hopefully the message will be passed on to everyone else.”