Celtics

How to watch Team USA basketball play Greece in the FIBA World Cup

How to watch Team USA basketball play Greece in the FIBA World Cup

The United States takes on NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece at the FIBA World Cup on Saturday morning in China.

Team USA features four Boston Celtics - Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum. Smart, who sat out the victory over Japan on Thursday with a quad injury, is expected to play vs. Greece. Tatum, who sprained his ankle last week in a victory over Turkey, will be out a few more days.

Here's how to watch the game online:

Time: 8:30 a.m.

Livestream: ESPN+ 

 

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Kemba Walker health update a roller coaster, but Enes Kanter offers calming view

Kemba Walker health update a roller coaster, but Enes Kanter offers calming view

Move over, Space Mountain. Disney’s most dizzying ride right now is the daily briefings on Kemba Walker’s health.

There’s twists, there’s turns. A lot of Celtics fans walk away feeling nauseous.

Let’s rewind: Walker started to experience left knee discomfort in mid-January and missed 10 games over the course of six weeks. He was a shell of his All-Star self and his shooting percentages plummeted. Walker got injections in the knee attempting to alleviate his discomfort but was still struggling when the NBA paused in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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With four months for Walker to rest that balky knee, the general thought was the Celtics guard would be at full health for the Orlando restart. Then Walker started experiencing discomfort after initial individual workouts in Boston earlier this month and the team decided to downshift his activities with the hope of ensuring his postseason health.

Walker spent the team’s first four days in Orlando on a strengthening program that kept him from participating in most on-court work outside of post-practice shooting. Celtics coach Brad Stevens initially said the team would tread carefully with Walker with the hope that he could increase his workload at Wednesday’s practice.

At the start of his Zoom session Wednesday, Stevens was asked if Walker was able to go through practice as expected and, well, that’s when the twists and turns started.

Twist 1: "He did not (practice).” 

Turn 2: "He did a harder workout on [Tuesday’s] off day."

Twist 3: “They’ve got him on a one-day off, one-day on plan."

Turn 4: "He’s reacted great, his knee feels good, and that’s a good thing.”

Twist 5: "He’s really prioritizing accumulating strength in that knee, so the day-on, day-off thing will be in effect for a while."

So Walker didn’t practice, but he got in a hard workout a day earlier. His knee feels good, but he’s pretty much got to downshift every other day in the early going.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Load management the new normal for Kemba? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

A check on Celtics fans' panic meters would probably run the gamut. Those still scarred from KG’s knee, Bird’s back, IT’s hip, Kyrie’s knee, and Hayward’s ankle probably saw their meters soar. Those with faith that the Celtics are just being overly cautious probably only whistled a bit.

The Kemba coaster ended on the upswing, however. After running through all the ball-handlers the team could lean on whenever Walker is not available, Stevens punctuated his thought by noting, “Every indication is he’ll be available when we’re playing games.”

Stevens has consistently said that Boston’s focus over the next month is simply to have everyone healthy and the team playing with a rhythm when the playoffs start in mid-August. Heck, that’s been the team’s goal much of the past decade (with less-than-stellar results when it comes to star player injuries).

But is there reason to still worry? For that, we asked podcast buddy and Celtics center Enes Kanter if fans should be concerned about Walker’s health.

Kanter answered the question with his own query: Had we seen the video the Celtics posted after Monday’s practice in which Walker made nine straight 3-pointers?

“He looks like regular Kemba to me,” said Kanter.

He did acknowledge that the team’s priority is to be at full health when the games matter most. 

One thing Kanter yearned to stress: Walker’s absence from the court hasn’t taken away from his contributions. Kanter praised Walker’s leadership and is bullish that, when the playoffs start, Walker will be out there doing all the things that All-Star Walker was doing at the start of the year.

Alas, the Kemba coaster will remain in service until we see that. With nearly all of the Celtics media back home in Boston and locked outside the bubble, we don’t get even a tiny glimpse of practice or a morning shoot-around to try to read Walker’s body language. We’re left to rely on the small bits of information being relayed from afar.

It’s fair to be skeptical. Walker hasn’t talked to reporters since entering the bubble and probably won’t do such until he goes through his first practice. Maybe it’ll be later in the week.

Thus, the Kemba coaster glides on in the darkness, with more twists and turns to come. Celtics fans are left to hope it ends with smiles, and not everyone reaching for their puke buckets.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Will load management be Kemba Walker's new normal?

Celtics Talk Podcast: Will load management be Kemba Walker's new normal?

The NBA's four-month hiatus was supposed to be a blessing in disguise for Kemba Walker, who was dealing with a nagging injury before the coronavirus pandemic halted the 2019-20 season.

Instead, the downtime reiterated that Walker's knee may be an issue for quite some time.

The Boston Celtics held the All-Star point guard out of practice Monday and Tuesday in Orlando after he experienced "a little bit of discomfort" in his left knee during individual workouts in Boston, per head coach Brad Stevens.

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Walker already has missed 14 games this season, so it's not a great sign that the knee is still bothering him after four months of rest. While the Celtics are optimistic about Walker being a full go for the playoffs, NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely is more wary of what future seasons will look like for the 30-year-old guard.

"My concern has more to do with the fact that this is year one of a four-year deal," Blakely told co-host Chris Forsberg on the latest Celtics Talk Podcast. "This is a guy who only missed for games total in the previous four years and he's already missed 14 this year. That makes me very concerned that this may be the beginning of a career of load management for Kemba Walker.

"I just remember at the start of the season, I asked him, 'You're coming up on 30, you've logged a ton of minutes: Any talk of load management?' And he kind of scoffed at me when I brought that up. And now in retrospect I'm thinking, 'Yeah, I might have been onto something there.' "

Celtics Talk Podcast: Load management the new normal for Kemba? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Walker indeed was an iron man for the Hornets, playing at least 73 games in all but two of his eight seasons with Charlotte and at least 80 games in four of those campaigns. A deep team like the Celtics can afford to give Walker some "load management" games, however, so missing 10 to 15 regular-season contests might be Walker's new reality in Boston.

As for the task at hand, Forsberg is confident the C's can get Walker right for the playoffs considering how they've handled previous veteran players with knee issues.

"The Celtics have downshifted guys in the past, whether that was Al Horford or Marcus Morris -- guys with knee issues that they wanted to strengthen so that they were upright in the playoffs," Forsberg said. "Al was playing 35 minutes per game in the playoffs throughout his Celtics career.

"I'm not overly concerned that they can keep Kemba ready. It's just going to be a storyline that lingers and goes on and on: When he plays only 14 minutes in one of these seeding games, it's going to be an issue."

The Celtics have eight "seeding" games to try to move up from the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference before the playoffs begin. Walker might play less in those games considering Boston has locked up a playoff spot, but once the postseason rolls around, Forsberg doesn't expect the four-time All-Star to hold back.

"The other thing we need to remember: He's going to be highly motivated," Forsberg said of Walker. "He hasn't had that chance to really show what he can do on the playoff stage, and I think if anyone's going to be able to battle through a little discomfort, it's going to be Kemba Walker."

Blakely and Forsberg also spoke with ESPN's Eric Woodyard about the Milwaukee Bucks' mindset entering the NBA bubble and how they stack up with the Celtics. 

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.