BOSTON (CBS) — Kemba Walker will not play Tuesday night. The Celtics point guard may return to action Wednesday night, but Brad Stevens said that is unlikely.
So now that he’ll miss a third — and likely fourth — straight game with knee soreness, what is Boston’s plan for Walker going forward? It’s pretty simple: Keep him healthy for the long run, which the Celtics hope includes a pretty lengthy run into June.
That means the Celtics aren’t going to play Walker until the knee is healthy. Even when he does return, they’re going to limit him at times, in hopes of keeping the 29-year-old’s knee preserved for the playoffs.
“That’s the goal,” Stevens told reporters in Portland on Tuesday. “If we need to sit him it’s a planned second night of a back-to-back down the road, it’s not because the knee acted and we need another week or two. Let’s do it now, strengthen it, make it as good as it can be, then we can ramp up accordingly as we head into the stretch run.”
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Stevens said an ultra-competitor like Walker doesn’t necessarily want to be sidelined or limited for any stretch, but he understands the team’s caution going forward.
“Right now it’s about strengthening the knee,” said Stevens.
“It’s kind of a different situation and I just have to be smart,” Walker admittied, albeit a little begrudgingly. “You just have to be.”
So a smart, cautious approach it is, no matter how much it kills Kemba to watch his teammates in action. He said it was difficult to watch Sunday’s Celtics-Lakers clash from the bench, knowing he could have helped his team win, but again, he understands the team’s caution.
On one hand, he’s a guy who usually plays 35 minutes in all 82 games, and goes all-out when he does. On the other, he’s an undersized point guard pushing 30 who would like to enjoy some playoff success for the first time in his career. If taking a few nights off during the regular season to keep his knee in check is the way to go, Walker is OK with it, no matter how hard it hurts to see his team play without him.
“For sure if it was up to me I would definitely go out there and play, but at this point I just don’t want to take a step backwards if I was to go out there,” he said. “So just being cautious.”