Celtics

Kemba Walker's impact on Celtics about more than just scoring

Celtics

BOSTON -- When Kemba Walker arrived in Boston, he came with a well-earned reputation for scoring…a lot. 

In eight seasons, he had already amassed enough points to be the Charlotte Hornets' all-time leading scorer.

Still, as we’ve seen this season, there’s more to Walker’s game than lighting up the scoreboard.

The 119-95 win over Memphis on Wednesday night was one of those games, in which Walker’s play highlighted his ability to impact the game in ways that don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet. 

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The Grizzlies threw a multitude of defensive looks at Walker, leaving him little choice but to play more off the ball in the hope that the attention paid to him would open things up for his teammates. 

Indeed, those around Walker are benefiting by his presence and poise the past two games, both of which saw the Celtics (29-14) win easily and do so by shooting north of 50 percent from the field. 

“He [Walker] did a good job,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “A couple times, he opened up [Daniel] Theis for shots. He opened up other guys for hand-offs because the defense was so sunk. He set a couple of nice back-screens that we didn’t end up converting but…he’s gonna see so many types of defenses.”

The way Walker adapted to the ever-changing tactics of the Grizzlies defensively, served as a reminder as to why he is a three-time All-Star on the cusp of being a four-time selection for the game next month in Chicago. 

 

“That’s how you know you’re a really good player, is when people throw you a bunch of different looks,” Stevens said. “He handles it really well.”

Walker, who had eight points on 2-for-9 shooting with four assists, three rebounds and two blocked shots, has embraced the fact that he will have nights when the opposing team will make it tougher than usual for him to score the way he’s accustomed to. 

Rather than forcing the issue, Walker makes contributing in other ways - like setting good screens, making the “hockey assist” or blocking shots - a more central part of his game. 

“We have so many threats on the perimeter,” Walker said. “And you know, every night is not going to be a great night for me. The special thing about this team is, multiple guys can have huge nights. When it’s not my night, it’s just not my night. And I’m definitely willing to accept that.

Walker added, “When I’m not playing at my best offensively, I have to do other things in order to help this team win. I just try to bring enthusiasm, energy, just great leadership to the game.”

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