Robert Williams isn’t the only key NBA player dealing with an injury during the playoffs.
Many others are in a similar position, and some have bleaker outcomes than Williams – who is expected to return either Saturday for Game 3 or Monday for Game 4.
Here’s a closer look at the injuries around the NBA and how they could potentially affect the Celtics.
Nets point guard Ben Simmons (back) said he’s pain-free, and it appears he could return either Saturday or Monday against the Celtics – with Monday’s Game 4 as the more likely outcome.
“We’ll just be happy to have Ben playing,” Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters. “We’re not here sitting and counting the minutes until Ben’s back. If he’s ready, he’s ready. If he’s not, he’s not. We want him to play when he’s ready to play.”
Bucks forward Khris Middleton, who often seems to play well against the Celtics, is out with an MCL sprain after slipping on a wet spot in Game 2 against the Bulls.
He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, which means the series with Chicago could potentially go longer than it otherwise might have. Middleton would likely be back for at least part of a possible Celtics-Bucks series, but it’s possible he won’t be at full strength.
The defending champs are still deep and talented without Middleton, but they’re certainly less explosive with him out of the lineup.
MVP candidate Joel Embiid is playing through the pain while dealing with a possible torn ligament in his thumb. If the Sixers can finish the Raptors off early, that could help Embiid as he tries to recover.
The Celtics and 76ers wouldn’t play each other until the Eastern Conference Finals, and a lot has to happen first to get to that point. Embiid’s injury helps the Heat more than anyone.
Celtics-Suns is viewed as one of the most likely NBA Finals matchups, but Phoenix’s path got a lot tougher with the news that superstar Devin Booker is expected to miss two-to-three weeks due to a hamstring strain.
The Suns lead the Pelicans, two games to one, but New Orleans has kept the series tighter than many expected. Phoenix’s path is already a difficult one, and it’s even more grueling now that Booker is likely out for the rest of the first round and potentially longer.
Luka Doncic (calf strain) is on track to return for Game 4.
The Mavericks were able to build a 2-1 lead over the Jazz without him, and they have a prime opportunity to finish off Utah and then take a swing at short-handed and top-seeded Phoenix.
It’s unlikely the Mavericks will make the Finals, but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility if Doncic looks like himself and Jalen Brunson keeps sizzling.
Many others likely out for season
Joe Harris (Nets, ankle), Lonzo Ball (Bulls, small meniscus tear), Jamal Murray (Nuggets, torn ACL), Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets, back), James Wiseman (Warriors, torn meniscus), and Zion Williamson ( Pelicans, foot) are all almost certainly out for the season.
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