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Robert Williams could be back in Celtics lineup next week

BOSTON -- The Celtics will be whole again in the near future. Robert Williams is expected to rejoin the C's lineup in the next "week or so," according to head coach Joe Mazzulla.

It's the "or so" part that adds a level of unknown to the Time Lord's timetable, but a return is getting closer. That's good news for the Celtics, who are 3-3 since Williams went down with a hamstring injury on March 3.

He was expected to miss 7-to-10 days when he was initially hurt -- or as some would say, "a week or so" -- so he's already gone over the timeframe he was initially given because of the ailment.

But that's in line with Boston's ultra-cautious approach with Williams this season. The goal is to have him healthy and ready for the playoffs, and a return next week would give him nine games to knock off any rust. He won't be playing in nine games, but he'll have nearly three weeks to get back to form ahead of the postseason.

Ahead of Wednesday night's win in Minnesota, Mazzula said that Williams responded well to a rigorous workout on Tuesday and that he "looked pretty good." While this new timetable would rule him out for Friday night against the Blazers and Saturday night against the Jazz, there seems to be a chance that Williams could return for the final game of Boston's six-game road trip when the C's take on the surprising Kings in Sacramento on March 21.

The Celtics could certainly use their game-changing center, who has played in just 28 of the team's 70 games this season. Williams didn't make his season debut until Dec. 16 after undergoing left knee surgery in September, and the team has been doing everything it can to make sure he's ready and rested for the playoffs. Like veteran Al Horford, Williams has not play in both ends of back-to-backs this season.

Boston is a different team with Williams on the floor -- especially a healthy Williams. The team has a net rating of 9.9 when Williams is on the floor -- meaning they outscore opponents by 9.9 points per 100 possessions when Time Lord is blocking shots and throwing down lobs. 

For the season, Williams is averaging 8.4 points off 75 percent shooting from the floor, to go with 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over his 28 games.

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