The Boston Celtics have a plan for Kemba Walker, and he's committed to following it. But that doesn't mean it will be easy for the Celtics star.
Walker has played just nine minutes total in the NBA bubble as he ramps up from a left knee injury he's dealt with since January. That ailment caused him to miss 10 games between January and March, and he's still feeling its affects despite a four-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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"Yeah, it's been frustrating," Walker said Thursday in a Zoom call with reporters. "I've been going through this pretty much most of the season, even before this bubble stuff. So, it's been something that's been nagging for a little bit now.
"Unfortunately it's still bothering me even after I’ve put in a lot of work and did the necessary things to try to get it right."
Walker is expected to be limited to 15-20 minutes in Friday's seeding round opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, according to head coach Brad Stevens. But Stevens seemed encouraged by Walker's progress Thursday, noting his All-Star guard might be "a little ahead of schedule" after insisting Wednesday that Walker's knee is "the strongest it's been since September."
While Walker isn't thrilled about playing on a minutes restriction, the 30-year-old is also optimistic he'll hit his stride come playoff time.
"This is the first time in my career I've ever had to go through this, so it's kind of tough," Walker said. "But I'll get there. I know what it's about. I know it's about me getting better for the playoffs. I'm working every single day to get myself prepared to play big minutes in the future."
Walker also pointed out a silver lining: His knee has been easier to manage in the warmer Orlando weather, especially without long plane rides that would cause his knee to swell in the past.
"It's something that a lot of athletes go through. Injuries happen. You're not going to feel your best all the time," Walker added. " ... I'm just staying positive. That's really all I can do."
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Bucks, which begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.