It’s been a long road back to full-go for Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker, but we got to see it a bit during Friday’s overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
No, Walker didn’t score 50-plus points (that was Jayson Tatum) or hit a game-winner at the buzzer, but the veteran guard made plenty of big plays in key moments, and it helped Boston pull out a 145-136 verdict at TD Garden.
Walker’s 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds also came in a season-high 39 minutes. Walker, you’ll probably remember, has been on a loose minutes restriction, and has sat out the second night of back-to-backs, throughout the campaign.
“The whole point of the year is to build him up to the point where you can throw a couple games like that at him, but we’re not going to that do that every night,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said on a postgame video conference. “But the reason why we’ve kept him basically under 35 the whole year was so we could build up to nights like this if we need to, but we’ll go from there.
“I thought he struggled a little bit, but he’s who he was when it mattered most when he had to knock down those shots in overtime,” Stevens added.
And that’s true. Walker was largely impactful in the overtime as he scored or assisted on 11 of Boston’s 21 overtime points.
He first assisted on a Jaylen Brown 3-pointer, then hit two from long range himself before finding big man Tristan Thompson for a basket in the paint, which gave the Celtics and eight-point lead with 48 seconds left.
It wasn’t his best overall showing, however, as he still was 5-for-14 from the field (3-for-10 from deep) with four turnovers.
Walker and the Celtics will get set for a three-game road trip starting with the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.