Celtics

While Kyrie Irving skips trip, Celtics' Kemba Walker eager to play again

While Kyrie Irving skips trip, Celtics' Kemba Walker eager to play again

BOSTON — The dichotomy between Boston Celtics point guards past and present was highlighted a bit Wednesday morning before the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets visited the Kemba Walker-led Celtics.

Walker, less than five days removed from a scary collision that caused him to be stretchered off the court in Denver, stood in front of reporters for the first time since the incident and expressed his dismay at having to miss a single measly NBA game on Monday out of an abundance of caution.

Barring an unforeseen setback, Walker will be on the court Wednesday night after the one-game absence that ended his streak of 158 consecutive games played. Irving, of course, will not be on the court as he sits out this road trip — one with stops at his former homes in Cleveland and Boston — due to a right shoulder impingement.

In this era of load management — or in Irving’s case, as some on Twitter have playfully suggested, maybe it’s loathe management — Walker simply does not subscribe to missing games for any reason.

"I was pissed about [missing Monday’s game],” Walker said. "I’m not gonna lie. I was really pissed about that. I wanted to play. I wanted to keep the streak alive. I can’t lie, I was pissed. But I guess it was gonna happen at some point.”

Walker experienced tingling and numbness in his fingers after running with his head down into Semi Ojeleye on Friday night. After passing a battery of tests in both Denver and Boston, he was officially diagnosed with a neck strain and never entered the league’s concussion protocol. Team doctors suggested that Walker go through an offday practice Tuesday before being fully cleared to return to action.

On Wednesday, Walker admitted there were some tense moments initially, though he never feared for his long-term health.

"It was a scary moment for myself. When I was in the moment it was pretty tough to be in, obviously,” said Walker. "I know it was scary for everybody. It was tough, but thank God I’m OK.

"Some numbness in my fingers. It went away pretty fast. I think that’s what got me the most nervous when I was on the ground. But, yeah, it went away. They just wanted to make sure I was good, I was safe. So they kept me from moving and put me on a stretcher, obviously. But yeah like I said, thank God I’m OK and it wasn’t as bad as it looked.”

Walker said Boston winning on Monday night against Sacramento made it a little easier to have to watch. In fact, he took in most of the Celtics-Nuggets game while getting checked out.

"I watched a lot of it,” said Walker. "I know those guys came back. They gave an unbelievable effort. I’ve been a part of games like that where somebody’s been hurt really bad and they’ve been through a lot of emotion. I know the way that looked, for those guys on the other end, it can be tough to finish the game. Definitely a lot of credit to those guys for just sticking the game out and playing til the end. 

"I sent those guys a text and let them know I was OK and I was really proud of them for the way they responded through the emotion.”

Walker said that Ojeleye shouldn’t feel bad for his role in the collision.

“He's strong as hell, I'll tell you that,” said Walker. "I know it was tough for him, as an individual, for him to be the one for me to run into. I know he was pretty sad about it, which I understand why, but he shouldn't have. He didn't have to be. It was kind of a freak accident, you know? Semi, he's such a great dude. I'm just glad to know it was cool. He was pretty upset about it but, like I said, there's nothing he could've done in that moment. It just kind of happened.”

Now Walker is ready for Game 1 of a new streak.

"I can play through a lot,” said Walker. "Like I said, I just have a strong love for the game, a passion for the game. So I love to play every single night. That's really why I play. I like to compete.”

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Celtics coach Brad Stevens joins elite company with win No. 300

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Celtics coach Brad Stevens joins elite company with win No. 300

BOSTON -- For most of Brad Stevens’ time as Boston Celtics coach, he tends to get more out of his teams than most expect. 

So, it was only fitting that on the night he came up with a historic win No. 300 with the Celtics, it would come in a game where his team was at far from full strength. 

No Jaylen Brown (ankle). 

No Jayson Tatum (groin).

No Enes Kanter (hip bruise).

No problem for the Celtics, who rallied from a 16-point deficit before pulling away for a 109-98 win.

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And with the victory, Brad Stevens became just the fifth coach in Celtics history reach the 300-win milestone, a group that includes Red Auerbach (795 wins), Tommy Heinsohn (427), Doc Rivers (416), K.C. Jones (308) and now, Stevens. 

It is an impressive mark when you consider the company he now finds himself in, a fitting accomplishment that speaks to how Stevens has immersed himself into being an NBA head coach after arriving from the college ranks. 

In Stevens’ first couple of seasons in the NBA, when the Celtics weren’t nearly as successful as the Stevens-coached teams at Butler, there were steadily rumblings that Stevens would get tired of the NBA coaching lifestyle and losing, and eventually return to college coaching. 

Despite such speculation, Stevens has consistently maintained that he wants to be in the NBA coaching this team. 

Stevens downplayed the milestone and deflected credit when asked about the milestone after the game:

And games like the comeback win over Orlando on Friday night remind us that Stevens is not only all-in on this Celtics team, but he’s all-in on being one of the winningest coaches in franchise history. He got it done with an undermanned, injury-riddled bunch and it was similar to a number of wins he has amassed that have led him to where he is now. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws on Friday

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws on Friday

Tacko Fall was recalled by the Boston Celtics on Friday, leaving Tremont Waters and Romeo Langford as the center of attention for the Maine Red Claws vs. the Long Island Nets.

It came down to the wire, but the Red Claws were able to squeak out a 118-114 win.

Here are some of Waters and Langford's highlights from the game, along with their stats:

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TREMONT WATERS

Waters nearly messed around and got a triple-double as he notched 23 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds on the night. He continues to dominate the NBA G League and make a solid case to become a regular with the Celtics sooner rather than later.


ROMEO LANGFORD

Langford finished with 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. The Celtics' No. 14 overall draft pick also tallied four rebounds and three assists.

Other standout performers included Trey Davis (29 points, seven rebounds) and Yante Maten (17 points, eight rebounds).

The Red Claws return to action Saturday at 5 p.m. ET vs. the Westchester Knicks.

Forsberg: Will Kemba have C's company at All-Star weekend?

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.