ATLANTA — Celtics center Robert Williams missed Wednesday night’s 110-99 loss to the Hawks because of left knee tendinopathy and Jaylen Brown sat out for the sixth game in a row because of a hamstring strain.
Williams said he began to experience some pain while running upcourt in the second quarter of Monday night’s win over the Cavaliers.
“I wasn’t trying to show it to the coaching staff, but when they saw me limping a little bit, they took me out,” Williams said.
Coach Ime Udoka said that Williams will not need to undergo further testing and that the team is confident he is just day to day.
“It’s a short-term thing,” Udoka said. “Just didn’t feel ready to go tonight. He felt better than the other night when it happened, but just being cautious with that.”
Williams is averaging 10 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks while playing a career-high 30.8 minutes per game this season. He said he does not believe the larger workload caused the knee pain, but he acknowledged that he has to be aware of how hard he pushes himself. Prior to this season, he had never averaged more than 19 minutes per game.
“Obviously, playing the most minutes I’ve played in my career, it’s something I’ve got to be on top of as far as treatment-wise and everything else,” Williams said.
Udoka said that Brown “ramped up” his workouts Wednesday but was not quite ready to return. After Brown was injured in a game against the Heat on Nov. 4, the Celtics said he would likely be sidelined for 1-2 weeks.
Grant Williams started in place of Robert Williams against Atlanta and had 18 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes, and Dennis Schröder remained in the starting lineup in place of Brown and added 15 points.
Although the Celtics have had an inconsistent start to this season, their defense has mostly been in lockstep. Entering Wednesday night the Celtics had the top-ranked defense in the NBA over the last seven games, allowing just 97 points per 100 possessions.
Robert Williams said the play at that end of the floor has been encouraging, but he believes there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“When we’re all locked in and we’re all aggressive, it’s some of the best defense I’ve ever seen played,” Williams said. “But just staying locked in the whole time and staying together the whole time, I feel like that’s where we slip at, where we fall at. So, just got to pick that up.”
The Celtics’ offense, meanwhile, ranks just 24th in the NBA. Udoka said that as the team improves at that end of the floor, it will be important not to relinquish progress on defense. Still, he is eager to see what this team looks like when the Celtics are humming in both phases.
“Overall, the theme is ball movement, find guys open shots, and just playing with a faster pace, which we did earlier in the season, and got bogged down a little bit over the last few games,” Udoka said.