MEMPHIS — Celtics coach Ime Udoka said center Robert Williams had some concerns prior to undergoing surgery on his torn left meniscus March 30, mostly because it was his first procedure. But he was “in great spirits almost immediately” afterward when he realized how simple the process was, and Williams already has started ramping up his two-a-day workouts.
“Everybody reacts differently so can’t anticipate a date,” Udoka said Sunday ahead of his team’s 139-110 win over the Grizzlies in the regular-season finale. “But barring any setback or swelling or anything like that, we hope to have him back sooner than later.”
Williams suffered the injury during Boston’s March 27 win over the Timberwolves. He is expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks, which likely would keep Williams out for at least the first round of the playoffs. But Udoka has indicated there remains a chance Williams could return during an opening-round series.
“The 4-6 week timetable is what it is,” Udoka said. “But guys will come back in three and stuff. Like [Bulls forward] Javonte Green was here and came back in three weeks and jumping out of the gym still. So everybody kind of reacts to it differently and so we’re not ruling him out because of that, but as I’ve said, we anticipate playing the first round without him.”
Proceeding as planned
After the Bucks sat all of their top players and lost to the Cavaliers Sunday afternoon, the Celtics entered Sunday night’s game against the Grizzlies still capable of finishing between second and fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.
The situation remained fluid throughout the day, with teams at the top either prioritizing rest, or not-so-subtly trying to maneuver into their preferred slots. After Milwaukee’s starters were held out, the 76ers announced that stars James Harden and Joel Embiid would miss their team’s game against the Pistons, a victory for Philadelphia.
All three teams finished at 51-31 but after tiebreakers the final order was: 2. Boston, 3. Milwaukee, 4. Philadelphia.
Boston was facing a Memphis team that was sitting all of its top players because it was already locked into the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. But the Celtics proceeded as planned, with all of the team’s regulars remaining active against Memphis.
“We’ve talked about it and looked at all scenarios,” Udoka said. “And it’s not all relying on what we do. Other teams can affect that as well … So we looked at every scenario, what we kind of concluded was, ‘Let’s do what we do.’ And helping, playing our best basketball, as I’ve mentioned, is the main focus. And so with all the variables in the plan and teams behind us still jockeying, it’s hard to manipulate anything.”
Celtics sign Morgan
The Celtics signed forward Juwan Morgan to a two-year contract. The forward signed a 10-day contract with Boston on March 28 and spent most of this season with the team’s G League affiliate, the Maine Celtics, averaging 12.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
“It was a guy that’s played well with our G League team all year,” Udoka said. “We had him in training camp, obviously, and he’s another guy that can do a lot of what we’re doing versatility-wise. We’ve had a chance to look at some different positions and different players and what he does fits well with our group.”
Morgan’s deal for next season likely includes a small partial guarantee, essentially giving Boston a chance to give him another look at training camp.