Celtics

Celtics remain cautious with timetable for Kemba Walker's return

Celtics

BOSTON -- Kemba Watch will continue for at least one more game with the four-time All-Star ruled out for the fifth consecutive game because of left knee soreness when the Celtics host the Houston Rockets on Saturday night. 

For years, Walker has been one of the most durable players in the NBA.

So to see him sidelined for multiple games is a bit jarring. 

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And while Celtics coach Brad Stevens offered a scenario that could have Walker back on the floor next week in Cleveland on Tuesday, the need for Boston to proceed cautiously when it comes to Walker’s health and return can not be overstated. 

The last thing the Celtics want or need is Walker hobbling into the playoffs at less than full strength; or even worse, unable to play, akin to what happened with Kevin Garnett in 2009 when he missed the final 25 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs, which ended for the Celtics with a second-round loss to Orlando. 

Being out with injury for an extended period of time is foreign terrain for Walker, who in his nine NBA seasons has had only one where he missed as many games as this season. 

That was in 2014-15 when he missed 20 games and had surgery to repair a torn meniscus to his left knee — the same knee that has him out now. 

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The Celtics have run a battery of tests of the injury to try and make sure that when he does return, this won’t be something that lingers.

Boston has played well without Walker (9-3), but don’t get it twisted. 

The Celtics know for them to have the kind of playoff run that they are hoping, Walker has to be at or close to full strength. 

For Walker, being part of a team that’s built beyond just his play, to fight for a second or third seed in the East and not just a spot in the playoffs, makes missing games a little easier to handle.

“I still don’t like it; no competitor would like missing games,” Walker told NBC Sports Boston. “I want to be out there with my brothers. But it’s good to know that if I can’t go, they can still play well, they can still win games.”

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