Wednesday, February 28

Celtics notebook: Rob Williams cleared for contact


Though revealing nothing new about Rob Williams’ recovery timeline — his shortest window, four weeks, would coincide with a potential Game 6 on April 29 in Brooklyn — Ime Udoka said the center continues to increase his post-surgical workload.

The new wrinkle? Williams has been cleared for, and is already absorbing, some contact.

“Yeah, he’s getting out there, getting some three-on-three up a little bit,” the Celtics coach said when asked whether Williams has been approved for contact.

“He’s doing more every day. It’s a comfort level thing with him,” he added. “The risk is injury, swelling or something like that coming off of surgery. Little bit of pain tolerance and how well his body reacts to the up level physically. Doing little more, getting out there on the court and looking good at times. We ease it up the next day if he has a heavy session. We’re still planning on playing without him, but happy with his progress.”

And on the other side …

Ben Simmons, who hasn’t played competitively since last spring with Philadelphia, is targeting a Game 4 return next Monday in Brooklyn, according to an ESPN report.

As such, Udoka admits the possibility of Simmons in Brooklyn’s scheme is now generating come conversation on his staff. As he pointed out, there’s already a lot of familiarity with the big non-shooting playmaker as far as the Celtics rotation goes.

“A little bit. We’ll start to talk about him as he becomes a possibility,” he said. “Myself, coaching him in the past and a lot of guys in general, a lot of them played against him recently in a series, two years ago in the bubble, and Al played with him. So a lot of us know him well enough. When it’s time to talk about what he does, I don’t think it’s a problem for our guys. We have a group that’s seen him quite a bit.”

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Appropriate behavior

Kyrie Irving, fined $50,000 for his running problem with Celtics fans in Game 1, stepped in front of his fan club for the second time in four nights Wednesday. Udoka has a simple theory on the interchange between players and fans — beware where you tread.

“Talk and talk back and keep the gestures to yourself, I guess, if that’s what’s going to get you in trouble,” he said. “Even now, saying things back have been caught on camera quite a bit. It’s a little bit dangerous there, but some players enjoy it and others stay to themselves. Obviously the banter back and forth for certain guys amps them up. Patrick Beverly and guys like that enjoy jawing with the fans. But once you do all the other, that’s gonna get caught on camera. So I say talk, and talk back. If you want to say something talk back, but understand that there will be repercussions if certain things are heard.”

The main challenge

The Celtics face the greatest two-man challenge in the game — how to continuing disrupting Kevin Durant while also doing a better job on Irving after his 39-point performance in Game 1.

“Obviously there was a lot of room for improvement, a lot of adjustments that could be made and stuff that we’ve talked about for the past two days,” said Derrick White. “So just focusing on the game plan, focusing on what we need to improve on. We’re a confident defensive team and have been all year. So just try to focus on that game plan and get stops when needed.”

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It was a given that Durant would make adjustments in Game 2.

“Obviously he’s a great player. He’s going to make adjustments. He’s going to probably come out aggressive tonight,” White said. “So it’s going to be a battle for 48 minutes, just making him work, making it tough for him to get to his spots and make it tough for him to catch the ball, stuff like that. So it’s going to be tough for 48 minutes tonight and we’ve got a lot to do with that stepping up to the challenge.”

Better bench

The Celtics bench, a weakness early in the season, has come into its own down the stretch, in part thanks to the addition of White at the trade deadline.

“We’re a confident group,” he said. “I just think that over the past month or so it’s just getting more comfortable with each other, just building that chemistry. We believe that when we go in there we can make stuff happen and change the game. So whenever our name or number is called, we just gotta go out there and compete and do the things that help us win games.”

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