It was believed that no Boston Celtic benefited more from the league’s stoppage of play back in March than Kemba Walker.
And yet as the Celtics gear up for the restart to the season, questions about Walker’s short and long-term health remain alive and well.
Left knee soreness forced Walker to miss six of Boston’s last 10 games following the All-Star break, including the first five.
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Head coach Brad Stevens recently revealed that Walker will be limited during the seeding games in Orlando, Fla., with the goal being for him to strengthen his knee to the point where he can play his usual minutes when the playoffs arrive without interruption.
While the Celtics have shown no signs of grave concern about Walker’s health, it is without question the biggest uncertainty with this team right now. Walker is more than just a key player; he’s a difference-maker whose status could very well mean the difference between a deep playoff run or a quick, disappointing end to the season.
The whole idea of Walker being limited is completely foreign to him based on his track record prior to arriving in Boston.
Walker has missed 14 games this season due to an assortment of ailments, most centering around his left knee. In the four seasons prior to his arrival in Boston, Walker missed a total of just four games.
The Walker we saw when the league went on pause simply won’t be good enough for this team to make much noise in the postseason. In the last three Celtics games prior to the season being suspended, he averaged just 12.7 points while shooting 12-for-43 (27.9 percent) from the field and 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) from 3-point range.
But the season as a whole has been a challenge of sorts for Walker.
Joining a team with far more explosive options offensively, it was a given that Walker’s scoring average would take a dip this year. His 21.2 points per game were his lowest scoring average since 2016, but more concerning was his drop in shooting.
With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward on board, this season was supposed to be one in which Walker would be a more efficient shooter.
Instead, he connected on just 42.1 percent of his shots, his lowest shooting percentage since 2015.
He has to be better — and healthier — going forward for the Celtics to achieve their goal of being one of the last teams standing.