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Robert Williams ‘progressing nicely’ from knee injury, but Celtics still not counting on him against Nets

The Celtics still are not counting on having Robert Williams against the Nets, according to coach Ime Udoka.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Celtics coach Ime Udoka said that injured center Robert Williams is “progressing nicely” as he continues his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery on his left meniscus on March 30.

“Doing a little bit more every day,” Udoka said before the Celtics’ 115-114 victory over the Nets in Game 1 Sunday at TD Garden.

“On-court work now. But as I’ve said all along we’re preparing to play this [Brooklyn] series without him, understanding that if we’re surprised by something, great, but we feel like we have enough with what we have now. Obviously he’s a huge piece to that but not thinking he’s coming back any time sooner than the time frame they gave us.”


Williams suffered the injury in Boston’s March 27 win over the Timberwolves and is expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks. The early end of the timeline could put Williams in position to return in the latter part of the Nets series if it’s extended beyond five games.

“Right now it’s really his flexibility, strengthening it, getting on the court doing some things, and then he’ll ramp that up little by little with the intensity,” Udoka said. “The big piece is the swelling and healing process. Everybody reacts to that differently and that can set some people back. So as long as he’s not getting swelling or some negative things we’ll just continue to be sure.”

Daniel Theis remained in the starting lineup in place of Williams in Game 1.

Light day for Simmons

Nets point guard Ben Simmons, who was acquired from the 76ers in February and has yet to play this season, took part in a very light workout before Sunday’s game. Simmons mostly just tossed passes to teammates taking jump shots. He threw in a quick dunk and a few layups, but was certainly not moving around the court very much.


According to multiple reports, Simmons is expected to return to practice with the Nets this week and could return later in the series.

No Net gains from experience

Udoka was an assistant coach with the Nets last season. He said he brings at least some familiarity from that experience into this series, but he pointed out that one doesn’t really need to have coached a team to know that Kevin Durant and Irving are dangerous.

“Different team in certain ways, [James] Harden obviously being a big piece that’s gone,” Udoka said. “That’s different. So there’s some different conditions, but it all goes back to Durant and Irving. Some things I saw last year and throughout this year I know about those guys, so we’ll see what we can do with it. They’re high-level scorers who kind of get what they get, and we have to keep them in check more than let them go off.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.