What impact will Celtics big man being out have on the Atlanta Hawks?

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

The NBA is already struggling with injuries and we are not even at media day yet. They lost the second pick in the 2022 NBA draft Chet Holmgren during a Pro-Am when he injured his ankle which sees him out for the season. While this could be a warning for the rest of the NBA, we must remember that injuries happen. In a double blow for the OKC Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also out with a grade two MCL sprain and will miss the start of training camp.

With the exception of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Jalen Johnson, the Hawks are relatively free of injury coming into the season which is a totally different scenario from last season. This is not the case for some of the Hawks’ Eastern Conference rivals.

We recently heard that the Chicago Bulls starting point guard Lonzo Ball will have another knee surgery. However, that is a story for another time, it is the knee surgery of Boston Celtics starting center Robert Williams III which is the focus of this article.

The Atlanta Hawks could benefit from the latest Boston Celtics injury.

The Celtics were meant to be the top team in the Eastern Conference. They were NBA Finalists last season and then upgraded their roster. However, they are potentially going to struggle in their big-man department for the early part of the season.

On top of Williams having an arthroscope on his knee, Danilo Gallinari injured his knee in the EuroBasket qualifiers. While there was originally light at the end of that tunnel, Gallinari has since had a second opinion and it looks like he is out for the season.

But the problem here is that Williams is the most important player on defense for the Celtics. Yes, Marcus Smart won Defensive Player of the Year but there is no way that he would have been able to do that if it was not for Williams’ play.

The timetable that the Celtics have suggested for his return is four to six weeks. However, what needs to be taken into account is that this is the same issue that Williams had surgery on in March. He then came back to play through the playoffs, all the way through to the Finals.

However, as the Hawks experienced with De’Andre Hunter, a torn meniscus can be a difficult injury to rehabilitate. This means that the four-week earliest possible return feels a little hopeful. If he is back by this time then he will miss the first part of the regular season.

If it turns out to be six weeks or longer, then there is a chance that the Celtics may not have Williams for the Hawks game on November 16th. Even if he has returned for the Hawks game though, the Celtics have eight games against quality opposition in the 14 games prior to the Hawks matchup.

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If the Celtics are without Gallinari and Williams for this time then there is a chance that they will struggle to win many of these games. If this is the case then the Hawks may get an early lead in the standings against a rival for a playoff spot. This could be crucial when the playoffs roll around and the Atlanta Hawks are looking to get the best seed that they possibly can.