Boston Celtics fans should be encouraged by what they've seen from Kemba Walker through the first two games of the NBA restart.
The C's All-Star guard has been on a minutes restriction due to a nagging left knee injury, but he's made the most of his time on the court. In Friday night's opener vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, Walker dropped 16 points in 19 minutes. Then in Sunday's win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Walker scored 14 points in 22 minutes.
In other words, he looks healthy. And that's great news for a Celtics team that will need Walker to be 100 percent when they begin their road to the NBA Finals later this month.
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Just how much does a healthy Walker improve the Celtics' championship chances? Chris Forsberg, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Kyle Draper answered that question on a brand new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast.
Forsberg is encouraged by what he's seen out of Walker thus far and believes he'll need to be himself if the C's have any hope of making a deep postseason run.
"My biggest takeaway from the whole weekend was Kemba looks like the Kemba we saw at the start of the season, and there is no bigger development for the Boston Celtics," Forsberg said. "If they have any aspirations of doing anything, they need a healthy Kemba Walker. We've been saying this for weeks ...
"He's flying around with a burst, a bounce that he hasn't had since probably the last calendar year, late December. I just think the team looks different because of it. The offense flows, teams can't double-team Tatum, it opens things up for Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown. I just think this is such a big piece of what they can do."
Blakely agreed with Forsberg's take and even took it a step further, stating Walker looks even better than he did earlier this season for the Celtics.
"To me, the big takeaway isn't just that Kemba looks like his old self, I think Kemba looks better than he did at the start of the season," Blakely said. "Because not only is he scoring at a level relative to his minutes that we're used to, but he's doing it efficiently.
"That's the one takeaway that has really jumped out to me, the fact that he's getting to his spots, he's knocking down shots that he should be knocking down, and he's doing it in a very precise, efficient matter which to me bodes well for going forward."
Draper took more of a cautiously optimistic approach, noting that we still have to see Walker get a full workload before we can breathe a sigh of relief.
"While I agree with everything you guys said, regarding Kemba, then what's the hold up then?" Draper asked. "If he looks good, if he's back to himself ... does he look good in five-minute spurts, or can he play 35 minutes and look good?
"I don't think any of it's a question of whether Kemba can look good in five minutes ... We need Kemba to do that 30-plus minutes a night. That's the big question, right?"
Also discussed on the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast: How will the C's manage Walker's minutes going forward? What are the biggest concerns through the first two games? And is there any danger of the Celtics falling to the No. 4 seed?