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PHILADELPHIA -- As the final seconds of the game clock ran off in Boston’s 107-93 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday, you would be hard-pressed to find any Celtics player taking the defeat harder than Kemba Walker.
And it wasn’t just because of the outcome, either.
Walker didn’t just have an off night.
In his ninth season, It was the worst opening night shooting performance in Walker’s career as he misfired on 14 of his 18 field goal attempts. And his 12 points tied his career-low in points scored in a season opener.
But here’s the thing about Walker.
When the three-time All-Star struggles to score as we saw against the Sixers, he doesn’t waste any time in getting back on track.
In fact, his scoring takes a significant leap forward in games that come right after he scores 12 points or less.
Walker has had 21 games in the last three years in which he has scored 12 points or less.
In that first game after he has scored 12 points or less, Walker’s scoring average jumps up to 23.5 points per game while shooting a solid 45.8 percent from the field. Here's how he fared in that situation last season:
|11/7/18 @ PHI||21-34||60|
|12/19/18 vs. CLE||11-26||30|
|1/5/19 @ DEN||6-17||20|
|1/28/19 vs. NY||5-16||14|
|2/22/19 vs. WSH||9-25||27|
|3/19/19 vs. PHI||8-18||21|
|4/1/19 @ UTAH||15-28||47|
That’s in part why you won’t find any concern or panic among the Celtics or Walker as it relates to his less-than-stellar opening night shooting performance.
“He’s a great offensive player,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Some of those shots will go down. Some of those things had to do with them guarding him well. And we’ll continue to ask him to be himself, because he’s awfully good.”
Walker is also encouraged that for the most part, he felt the shots that he was taking against Philly were shots he has made a healthy living out of making and taking in the past.
“They are routine shots; shots I’ve been making over the course of my career,” Walker said of his misses. “Just have to focus on putting the ball in the basket.”
History tells us that he will score more points in the Celtics’ home opener against the defending champion Toronto Raptors on Friday night, and do so in a more efficient manner.
But he knows even with more points coming from him, there are a number of other things the Celtics must do in order to get their first win of the still-young NBA season.
“Just small things,” Walker said. “We have to be better … We’re still learning each other. It takes time. Game one, obviously it sucks that we lost. But I think we’re still extremely confident; we believe in each other. It’s a long year.”
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