Celtics

Celtics

Those already concerned about Kemba Walker's knee probably did a double-take when Kendrick Perkins implied Tuesday that the Boston Celtics had "lost" their star point guard to injury.

During an interview Wednesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand," head coach Brad Stevens sung a very different tune when asked about Walker's health.

"His knee is the strongest it's been since he got here in September," Stevens said.

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That's a bold proclamation about a player who missed 10 games from January to March due to a balky left knee and experienced discomfort in that same knee earlier this month following a four-month layoff.

Walker looked no worse for wear Sunday during his NBA bubble debut against the Phoenix Suns, however, and has been steadily ramping up his activity level over the last few weeks.

"He has worked exceptionally hard over the last couple of weeks with a great training plan from our training staff," Stevens said. " ... (He) will play limited minutes in the first few games with the idea of building him up -- hopefully with no setbacks -- to the point where he can play normal minutes in playoff games.

"Everything has been part of a plan. It's trying to be more proactive than reactive."

Walker and several other Celtics starters sat out Boston's final scrimmage Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, but Stevens appeared to suggest he'd play Walker between 14 and 20 minutes in their first "seeding" game Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

"I laughed when we first showed Kemba his minutes restriction Friday night: I already told Kemba what he's going to say to me when I take him out of the game, because I've lived this enough," Stevens said. "It's not going to be pleasant. It's not going to be enjoyable, but I told him I'll take it.

"Nobody wants to come out of Game 1 just 14 to 20 minutes into it, but I feel really good about the plan we've put together. The key now is, can you get enough game time in and get yourself to feeling as good as you can so can be at your best on Aug. 17?"

That's when the NBA postseason officially begins in Orlando. And if Walker sticks to the Celtics' plan without any issues, Stevens apparently is confident his All-Star point guard can be at full strength come playoff time.

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