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BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have seen their share of changes in recent years. But the one constant has been strong play from an all-star point guard.
Isaiah Thomas ushered in this run by transforming himself into being a two-time All-Star after years of having been viewed as an undersized but limited, high-scoring guard.
Kyrie Irving had an NBA title under his belt and years of experience at being a difference-maker down the stretch in close games prior to arriving in Boston, and provided similar production during most of his time as a Celtic.
Now it’s Kemba Walker’s turn.
And like his predecessors at the point for Boston, Walker has been at his best in the second half of games and the fourth quarter.
So who was the best of the bunch?
That all depends on what your sample size might be in comparing the threesome.
The model that makes the most sense to go with would be comparing the second half and fourth quarter numbers of each player after their first three games starting for the Celtics.
Under those conditions, Walker stacks up favorably.
While the sample size is relatively small, it reinforces many of the perceived strengths of Walker prior to arriving in Boston.
Last season, Walker averaged 25.6 points per game which ranked 10th in the NBA. That included him averaging 8.0 points in the fourth quarter. Only two players - LeBron James and James Harden - averaged more points per game in the fourth quarter than Walker.
So it should come as no surprise that the veteran guard is off to a fast start when it comes to second half scoring as well as points scored in the fourth.
Thus far this season, Walker is averaging 13.7 points in the second half of games. Only three players (Pascal Siakam of Toronto; Donovan Mitchell of Utah; and Phoenix guard Devin Booker) have appeared in as many games as Walker this season and have a better scoring average than Walker in the second half of games.
In comparison to his predecessors after their first three games as a starter, Walker’s second half surge stands out prominently.
After his first three games for the Celtics, Kyrie Irving averaged 9.7 points in the second half. Isaiah Thomas wasn’t too far behind him at 8.7 points per game.
But what really made Walker’s predecessors stand out while in Boston, was having the ability to go on big fourth-quarter scoring binges.
After the first three games as a starter for Boston, Isaiah Thomas averaged 8.5 points in the fourth which was tops for this triumvirate of talented basketball players. Walker and Irving weren’t too far behind while averaging 7.7 and 7.0 points, respectively.
So what does it all mean?
It’s still early and the sample size remains a small one, but Walker has shown signs that he’ll continue to be even better for the Celtics when it comes to delivering big shots and making big plays in the second half and fourth quarter of games.
And that provides a much-needed calmness about the future, one that will be led by Walker who has already established himself as one of the NBA’s best late-game finishers.
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