Is Kemba Walker feeling like his old self again?
It’s probably too soon to answer definitively, but Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens on Wednesday highlighted a “really, really encouraging” aspect of the point guard’s return from injury during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak and Bertrand.”
Stevens revealed Walker no longer speaks to him about feeling knee pain after games, which suggests the four-time All-Star’s offseason procedure and ensuing rehabilitation program were effective.
“I think he looks good,” Stevens said, as transcribed by Boston.com’s Conor Roche. “I guess I’m not surprised, though. I understood the angst and concern from the outside because nobody had seen him. But I had seen him for the better part of two or three weeks there right before he started playing and knew what the plan kind of was. It’s a long-term strengthening program.
” … The hope with the strengthening program, the hope with the treatment plan is that it’s not something to worry about. But it is something you always have to work on. It is something that you always have to be on top of. He has said this several times, he has been pain free after these games and that’s really, really encouraging.”
Walker has played four games in the 2020-21 NBA season. He’s averaging 17 points and 4.8 assists in 23.5 minutes per game since his Jan. 17 return.
Stevens intends to restrict Walker to fewer than 35 minutes per game and has no plans to play him in the second game of back-to-backs during the regular season.
“We’ll keep his minutes down,” Stevens said. “I’m not going to play him in the mid-30s (minutes) at any point here in the near future. It’s all part of a plan that’s not only for the best interest of this team, but also in the best interest of his career here moving forward. As the season goes on and we get into late April, early May, before the playoffs, we’ll ramp him up a little bit.”
Although many are keen to see what the Celtics will look like with a fully ramped-up Walker, they will have to be patient for the next few months.