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Extra rest between Finals games will benefit Robert Williams, says Ime Udoka

Robert Williams had just 2 points and 3 rebounds in Game 7 vs. Miami as he continues to deal with the aftereffects of knee surgery and a bone bruise.Andy Lyons/Getty

Celtics center Robert Williams, who has dealt with consistent left knee soreness and swelling during the playoffs, was clearly hobbled while playing 14 minutes in Sunday’s Game 7 win over the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. But coach Ime Udoka said Tuesday that Williams benefited from a smaller workload in that game and is feeling better in advance of Thursday’s NBA Finals opener against the Warriors.

“Getting looked at today and will continue to get his treatment and rehab in order to get swelling down and some of the pain and mobility back,” Udoka said. “And so it’s going to be an ongoing thing, like I mentioned.


“He’s day-to-day pretty much throughout the playoffs. Should feel better with time in between, especially with these two days off in between games, as opposed to playing every other day.”

How will Robert Williams respond to a lighter workload in Game 7 against Miami?Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Williams tore the meniscus in his left knee in the March 27 game against the Timberwolves and underwent surgery three days later. He missed a little less than a month before returning in Game 3 of the opening-round series against the Nets, but suffered a bone bruise on that same knee during the conference semifinals against the Bucks.

Williams, who was a second-team All-Defense selection this season, has rarely shown his above-the-rim bursts since returning. But Udoka insists that finally getting some extended rest should help.

“I think going back to the Milwaukee series, we had played 17 days straight every other day, and so that’s going to take a toll on you coming off a surgery,” Udoka said. “We keep his minutes down and get him back to feeling better, obviously that will benefit us going forward.”

Udoka said that guard Marcus Smart, who missed Game 4 of the conference finals because of a sprained ankle, should not be limited moving forward.


“There’s no concern about that,” Udoka said. “The swelling is what it is and that will dissipate as time goes by, and the pain tolerance thing, he can obviously play through a lot, and he did that and played heavy minutes [against the Heat].”

Late lessons

The Celtics nearly collapsed in Game 7 against the Heat. They held a 13-point lead with less than four minutes left before Miami surged back and pulled within 2 in the final minute and had a chance to take the lead on a Jimmy Butler 3-point attempt.

Butler missed, and the Celtics survived, but there were some lessons to take from the crunch-time missteps.

“Obviously they went after Jayson [Tatum] and took it out of his hands,” Udoka said. “They had done that at times throughout the series, and for us, we want to get the mix of taking the open shot but not living and dying on the 3-point line, especially when you have the numbers behind it. You’d like to get something to the basket, get some layups as far as that.”

Ime Udoka is looking at the final moments of Game 7 against Miami as a teachable moment.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

During Miami’s comeback, Smart missed three consecutive 3-point attempts as the Heat focused on Tatum. There were also opportunities to burn more time.

“Some of the looks are great, but at the same time, you would like to slash and make them pay a little more for that,” Udoka said. “I felt we could have cut to the basket and got some more easy layups and not just relied on the 3-point shot.


“Not saying we got stagnant overall; they did what they did and they took it out of [Tatum’s] hands. It’s up to us guys behind it to make the plays.”

Brown joins West

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown has inked a deal with Kanye West’s Donda Sports, according to TMZ. Brown acknowledged the deal on Instagram.

Details are scant so far, but the arrangement may turn out to be focused on Brown’s off-the-court branding and marketing efforts, and doesn’t mark a change to his representation.

That would track with the Donda Sports deal signed by NFL star Aaron Donald, who announced this past weekend he would be joining West’s company.

Donald, who hasn’t committed to playing next season after winning the Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams, was the first active professional athlete to say he had a deal.

Jaylen Brown has some notable new representation.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

“The whole spectrum of everything that was going on, what they were going to be bringing, the family atmosphere that they got,” Donald said, “for me, it was a no-brainer.”

Brown and West appear to have a personal relationship. A photo of them popped up on Instagram when the Celtics played the Warriors in San Francisco in March.

According to TMZ, West is a fan of Brown’s basketball talents, as well as his “intelligence, activism, and charitable work.”

Brown is a sneaker free agent, meaning he has no deal with a shoe company — a big deal in NBA circles. His deal with Adidas expired in 2021 and Brown has been trying out several types of shoes during the Celtics’ run to the NBA Finals. West has a partnership with Adidas, which manufactures and markets his Yeezy shoe line.


Michael Silverman of the Globe staff contributed to this report

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.