By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Not a lot went right for the Boston Celtics on Sunday as the team suffered its worst loss of the season — a 30-point beatdown at the hands of the New York Knicks. But there was one bright spot in the lopsided defeat.READ MORE: Woman Hit And Killed After Getting Out Of Friend's Car On I-93 In Medford
Kemba Walker made his long-awaited season debut for Boston, and though he looked extremely rusty throughout the game, the point guard said that he was comfortable making his usual moves on the court. Walker said that he was feeling “pain-free” after his 20 minutes of action.
“It feels weird actually not having pain, if that makes sense. It’s kind of a weird feeling,” Walker said after scoring nine points in Boston’s 105-75 loss. “I’ve been hurt for a very long time, so I was really just happy to get out there. Just super excited.
“It was fun,” he added. “I can’t wait to get back out there.”
Sunday was Walker’s first game action since Sept. 27, when the Celtics were ousted by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals in the Orlando bubble. It was his first real game action since that date, considering the Celtics weren’t able to practice or scrimmage much since Walker was cleared for action on Jan. 8 because of COVID-19 issues up and down the Boston roster.
He probably felt a bit of pain after taking a shot to his ribs in the third quarter, which ended Walker’s afternoon. But that pain was not in his knee, and that’s the best news on the Walker front.
The bad news — and this was to be expected — is that the 30-year-old looked every bit like someone who hadn’t played basketball in nearly four months.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
To say Walker looked rusty would be an understatement. He moved up and down the court pretty well, but he struggled from the floor and finished just 3-for-13 from the field. He hit just one of his eight three-point attempts, and also turned the ball over five times. He did add three rebounds, four assists and three steals, but overall, Walker was a bit of a mess.
So really, he fit right in with the Jayson Tatum-less Celtics on Sunday. It was a bad day for the team, and it would probably be best if Brad Stevens burns the game film after hammering home the laundry list of things that didn’t go Boston’s way against the Knicks.
But Walker’s rustiness was to be expected, and given his track record in the NBA, hopefully it shouldn’t take him too long to return to form. Though his shot wasn’t falling, Walker said that he wasn’t thinking about his knee during Sunday’s game, which was not the case when he was going up and down the floor a few months ago.
“At one point, mentally, that’s all I could think about,” he said. “Today when I’m out there, I’m making the moves I normally make and I don’t feel anything and it’s joy. I’m excited. I put in a lot of work. I really attacked my rehab to get where I’m at. I want to continue to build off this and just try to stay healthy. That’s the most important thing.”
Now the most important thing is how Walker’s knee responds on Monday and Tuesday, leading up to Boston’s scheduled game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Walker will continue to be on a minutes restriction for the foreseeable future, as the Celtics ease him back into action.
Though he’d like for that minutes limit to end when the Celtics take the floor on Wednesday, Walker doesn’t want to push it and have a repeat of last season.MORE NEWS: 'It's Panic': CareWell Urgent Care Patients Concerned 2nd Vaccine Doses Will Be Canceled
“I’m just getting back. We just want to see how my knee reacts after these games and stuff like that. It’ll ramp up, though,” he promised. “I’ll get there. It’s no rush. I already took my time coming back, and I’m going to keep taking my time until I’m full go.”