Celtics Notes: Brad Stevens Explains Reasoning Behind Kemba Walker’s Off Night

'That's a great sign of respect'


There’s no ideal night for Kemba Walker to contribute far less than his typical offensive production, but especially so Wednesday in a double-overtime loss.

The Boston Celtics guard finished with merely five points in the contest. He shot an underwhelming 2-for-11 from the field and 1-for-6 from beyond the arc while playing a team-high 52 minutes.

But head coach Brad Stevens seemingly wants everyone to see the full picture, noting how the Toronto Raptors defended Walker during Boston’s 125-122 double-overtime loss in Game 6 on Wednesday.

“In the first half, that’s not really fair to Kemba because their in a box-and-one on him, playing on top of him. And we’re getting great shots against it throughout the entire first quarter,” Stevens told reporters after the loss, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “So, at that point in time his job is to either be a spacer, or a cutter, or a screener, and watch everybody else score. And then when they get out of it, then he gets better opportunities himself.

“So, that’s not on Kemba or anything about the three attempts in the first half or anything like that,” Stevens continued. “That’s how they were guarding him. They took him away. That’s a great sign of respect.”

Walker didn’t feel the same as he took more of the blame on his shoulders, especially for his second-half output.

“Had me in the box-and-one, denied the whole first half. Second half, I just couldn’t really find a rhythm. I had a few good looks, just wasn’t enough,” Walker said. “Just wasn’t enough to help my teammates tonight. Just a bad offensive night, terrible offensive night.

“… I got to find a way to help my teammates more. I got to be better for my teammates,” he added.

Here’s some more notes from Wednesday’s game:

— Again with the third quarter.

The Celtics took a 12-point lead in the second quarter Wednesday. Unfortunately, Toronto closed that gap to four points at the half, but it was another bad third quarter as the Celtics were outscored by eight points, which ultimately allowed the Raptors to gain momentum.

Toronto outscored Boston 22-12 midway through the quarter, including a 12-2 stretch over a two-minute span. It’s been a growing theme, and not a good one.

“They’re playing with more force than we are in the first six minutes of that quarter, usually,” Stevens said.

Walker added: “I wish I could tell you (why), I wish I could. We’ve been really conscious of it, but it’s still been happening. It won’t take much, we just have to be better.”

— Jaylen Brown had a pretty simple response to what led to the Celtics getting beat down the stretch.

“Just continue to stay poised. I felt like we didn’t play as well as we needed to down the line, down the stretch. Had some big turnovers that just killed us,” Brown said. “And a lot of that is the responsibility on me, on guys with the ball in their hands, we got to just down the stretch make better plays. And their team, they did, they made big plays down the stretch and that’s why they came out on top. So, it’s definitely a learning, or teaching, moment for us, and we’ll be better next game.”

— While the Celtics ultimately fell in Game 6, they did have some impressive individual performances.

Marcus Smart recorded a triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in 50 minutes. Tatum finished just shy of a triple-double as he tallied 29 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in 51 minutes. Brown had a double-double himself with 31 points and 16 rebounds in 51 minutes himself.

The Celtics and Raptors will take the floor for Game 7 on Friday night with tip off set for 9 p.m.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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