The Boston Celtics probably need the best of Kemba Walker in order to fulfill their potential.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps asked “What will Kemba Walker look like?” Sunday as the Celtics’ biggest question ahead of the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season. Walker enjoyed a strong start to the season, but he struggled after the new year due to problems in his left knee. Walker said last week the lengthy NBA hiatus allowed him to rehabilitate his knee fully, and Bontmemps believes the Celtics only will make a deep run in the NBA Playoffs if the All-Star point guard shines.

“Walker was nowhere near himself in the weeks leading up to the shutdown in March, thanks to lingering knee issues,” Bontempts wrote. “His play particularly dipped after the All-Star Game, as he repeatedly posted poor shooting nights and failed to play with his usual burst. The Celtics were thrilled by Jayson Tatum’s star turn, and they like the balanced offensive attack they have with Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward on the wing, but Walker needs to play like an All-Star if this team is going to have a chance to make it out of the East.”

Bontemps’ question is on the mark, and the prospect of Hayward missing time due to lingering foot soreness or the birth of his fourth child makes the Celtics even needier for a healthy and sharp Walker.

The Celtics’ seeding-round schedule largely is favorable and their good odds to reach the Eastern Conference finals or even NBA Finals excite fans ahead of the restart. However, this sense of optimism might change if any bad news about Walker’s knee emerges in the coming weeks.

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