Report: Celtics' Robert Williams expected to return for Game 3 vs. Nets

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Boston Celtics center Robert Williams is expected to return for Game 3 of the team's playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

He's expected to play limited minutes in his return in anticipation of a bigger workload in Game 4 if things go well on Saturday, per the report.

Williams hasn't played since sustaining a meniscus tear during Boston's March 27 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The injury was reportedly expected to sideline him for several weeks. His return would be a big boost for a Celtics team that's already taken control of its first-round playoff series with a 2-0 lead over the Nets.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 13: Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics is introduced before a game against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden on February 13, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
Robert Williams is reportedly expected to play in Game 3 against the Nets. (Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

An NBA All-Defensive Team candidate, Williams averaged 10 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 0.9 steals in 61 games during the regular season while shooting 73.6% from the floor. He anchored the interior of a defense that led the NBA in defensive rating during the regular season.

The Celtics have thrived in the postseason despite Williams' absence, most notably limiting Kevin Durant to 31.7% shooting from the field while forcing 12 turnovers from the Nets superstar en route to their 2-0 series lead. The series shifts to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Saturday.

Will Ben Simmons make his Nets debut?

The Nets could be ready to counter with their own personnel move in Game 4. Ben Simmons said on Friday that he "reasonably" expects to play in Monday's Game 4. If so, the game would mark his Nets debut after he's remained sidelined since a midseason trade from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons' Game 4 return likely wouldn't matter much if the Nets don't win Game 3. A loss on Saturday would put Brooklyn in the position of attempting to become the first team in NBA history to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.