Celtics

Here's the first look at Kemba Walker in Boston Celtics green

Here's the first look at Kemba Walker in Boston Celtics green

Kemba Walker looks good in Celtic green.

The All-Star point guard reportedly has agreed to a four-year, $141 million max contract with the Boston Celtics, giving the franchise a great replacement for the departed Kyrie Irving.

Walker has not been formally introduced by the Celtics, and his contract cannot become official until July 6. But he was seen wearing a Celtics sweatshirt at the Auerbach Center in Brighton, Mass., on Monday, and Chad Amaral of Boston 25 News tweeted a video of a brief exchange between Walker and C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge outside the facility.

We don't yet know which number Walker will choose with the Celtics.

He wore No. 15 at the University of Connecticut and during his eight-year stint with the Charlotte Hornets, but that number is retired in Boston in honor of Tommy Heinsohn. He could take No. 11, which was Irving's number. Another possibility is No. 4, which was last worn by another star point guard, Isaiah Thomas.

Walker is sure to bring excitement to TD Garden next season regardless of his jersey number. He averaged a career-high 25.6 points per game last season and is able to effectively shoot from 3-point range and finish at the rim.

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Load management works for Kawhi Leonard, so what about Celtics' Kemba Walker

Load management works for Kawhi Leonard, so what about Celtics' Kemba Walker

BOSTON — When it comes to NBA players, the more you're around them, the more you learn. 

Take Kemba Walker for example. 

Before becoming a Celtic, I knew all about his killer step-back shot and the cross-over. I knew he was far more competitive than most folks outside of Charlotte realized. And how he was a pesky defender; not Marcus Smart pesky but definitely part of irritante family of NBA players at that end of the floor. 

But what I didn’t anticipate was how often he gets knocked around on a night-to-night basis. 

And how from time to time, he’ll linger on the floor a little longer than most Celtics fans feel comfortable with, fearful that this will be the hit that he can’t bounce back from quickly. 

But as each hit passes he eventually rises to his feet, displaying an unflinching level of durability few players in the NBA possess in this era of self-preservation cloaked in the verbage known as “load management.”

And the Celtics are doing their part to keep Walker upright by giving him something in games he didn’t get nearly as much of while in Charlotte. Rest. 

The Celtics aren’t in full-blown load management mode when it comes to Walker, but there’s no mistaking how they have gone about finding a balance between him playing superstar-like minutes while still getting proper in-game rest along the way. 

The results thus far have been impressive. 

Walker is still putting up All-Star level numbers (23.4 points, 5.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds) for a Celtics team that at 11-2 has the best record in the Eastern Conference. 

And here’s the kicker. 

He’s doing it in 33.5 minutes per game, the fewest he has averaged since his rookie season. 

Walker is following the path blazed by Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving as far as being a more efficient All-Star, both in terms of his play and how his playing time is being utilized with the Celtcs. 

And while his durability is unquestioned (he has missed six games total in the last four years), we know at some point all those minutes logged will catch up to him and make playing at the elite level that he’s at now, far more difficult than it is currently. 

No one is giving too much thought to how many minutes Walker is playing and its impact down the road. 

But as the wins keep piling up and the confidence of this team keeps growing, at some point sooner rather than later, the Celtics have to do all they can to best ensure that Walker is as close to being 100 percent health-wise going into the postseason. 

We see teams across the league resting their top players from time to time for no other reason than to give them a night off, with the intent being to keep them as fresh as possible for when the games matter most. 

The success that the Toronto Raptors had last season while resting Kawhi Leonard spoke to the best-case-scenario for using “load management” to benefit your top players. 

Now with the Los Angeles Clippers, we see that Leonard continues to be on load-management restrictions. 

The Clippers will host the Celtics on Wednesday, with no indication whether Leonard will play for the first time with his new running mate Paul George, who recently returned to the lineup following offseason surgery on both shoulders. 

And while the Clippers (8-5) haven’t been nearly as successful in the regular season than the Leonard-less Raptors were a year ago, that doesn’t matter. 

The Clippers are playing for an NBA title this year, and are confident that a healthy Leonard — regardless of their playoff seeding — can make that happen. 

Meanwhile, Boston didn’t come into the season with a roster built to compete for and potentially win an NBA title. 

But with their fast start to the season, along with the growth of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum among others, and Walker’s play, the calculus for the expectations of this team has been modified. 

While it’ll be difficult for them to come out of the East and get to the NBA Finals, there’s a brighter flicker of hope at the end of the tunnel of self-doubt that maybe — just maybe — this Celtics team can shock the world and be one of the last teams standing. 

In order to do that, they will need Kemba Walker to continue playing at an upper-echelon level as far as impacting the game, a process that becomes more doable if his minutes continue on a load management-like schedule. 

C's Director of Player Development Allison Feaster joins The MichaeI Holley Podcast:

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.  

 

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Clippers live stream: How to watch online

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Clippers live stream: How to watch online

The Boston Celtics (11-2) look to keep it rolling on Wednesday night when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers.

The C's had their 10-game win streak snapped by the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, but bounced back with a dominant 99-85 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Jayson Tatum was outstanding, dropping 26 points and adding 11 rebounds in the win.

Boston will look to carry its momentum into L.A., but it won't be easy. The Clippers could have Kawhi Leonard back just in time for the matchup according to head coach Doc Rivers, meaning it may be their first time having the feared Leonard/Paul George pairing this season.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 10 p.m. or stream it via the MyTeams app. 

HOW TO WATCH

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ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 9 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Chris MannixMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

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Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.