Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III returned to practice on Tuesday and is expected to travel with the team to Philadelphia after a bout with COVID-19. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Sitting at a table after the Celtics’ Tuesday morning practice, Robert Williams looked and sounded relieved as he took part in a video conference interview with Boston media.

Tuesday was Williams’ first practice back after his COVID-19 quarantine. He’ll fly with the team to Philadelphia, where he’s expected to return to action Wednesday night.

“Staying away from the team was a difficult time for me, I’m not going to lie. It took a toll on me,” he said. “I’m happy to be back.”

Unlike many athletes, who have tested positive but have avoided symptoms, Williams admitted he had some rough days.

“I woke up in sweat one night. Going through not being able to sleep. Every five seconds I’m pulling the covers off me and putting them back on me. It was tough,” he said.

To compound that, he was trying to keep track of his family, who were also infected.

“A couple days before I tested positive for COVID, my daughter’s mother and my daughter tested positive for COVID,” said Williams, who didn’t clarify whether his family was with him in Massachusetts or home in Texas. “My focus wasn’t on myself. I just found out three days ago that my mother tested positive.

“They’re all doing good. I was more worried about them than I was about myself obviously,” he added. “They’re over it now. My daughter didn’t show any symptoms still playing around, still running around.”

Because he did experience symptoms, Williams is at a greater risk for heart-related side effects, but he had a cardiac test Monday morning and came back clear.

“I had a cardiac test yesterday at 6 in the morning,” Williams said laughing at the early hour. “I’m glad to say it went well.”

He’s trying to get his strength and stamina back after over a week of inactivity.

“At first, it was just strictly, they didn’t want me to do anything. Just keep drinking fluids, keep trying to eat,” he said. “As the days progressed and I got the strength back and I felt like I could move around and do stuff, I did a couple of stretches at home.”

Williams missed the Celtics’ Jan. 8 win over Washington after testing positive. Boston didn’t play again until a week later after three games were postponed, the first because Miami didn’t have enough healthy players and the next two because the Celtics’ roster dropped below eight available players. Williams was still out Friday and Sunday when Boston returned to action.


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