By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) –Kemba Walker wanted to play more minutes on Wednesday night. He’ll get his wish Friday when the Celtics get a rematch against the 76ers.

Walker’s minutes restriction is already becoming less of a restriction, head coach Brad Stevens announced Thursday. After playing 22 minutes in Wednesday night’s loss in Philly, Walker will get between 25-28 minutes in Friday night’s rematch.

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Those extra minutes should make life a lot easier on both Stevens and Boston’s point guard. Walker was on fire during his 12 minutes of action in the first half Wednesday night, scoring 17 points of his 19 points, but he spent most of the third quarter on the bench and was out of rhythm when he returned to the court. Walker struggled in the second half and was never able to recapture his first-half flow the rest of the way.

Boston was outscored 15-6 down the stretch and lost 117-109.

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The extra three to five minutes that Kemba will see Friday night might not sound like much, but they should help bridge the gap between Walker’s action in the first half and whenever he enters the game in the second half. Stevens kept him on the bench to start the second half on Wednesday night before playing playing him for a four-minute stint at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. Walker didn’t play again until there were five minutes left in the game, and he discussed how it took him out of his rhythm after the loss.

The Celtics are taking an extremely cautious approach with Walker, who missed the start of the season as he worked his way back from the knee issue that hampered him during last year’s playoffs in Orlando.  It may be a while before we see Walker out there for 35 minutes, but he’s trending in the right direction after two games.

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While Walker’s playing time will be increasing Friday night, the Celtics still don’t know — or at least, they aren’t saying — if they’ll have Jayson Tatum back in the lineup. Boston’s star player is working out in Boston as he comes back from a bout with COVID-19, and Stevens wasn’t sure if Tatum would be joining the team for Friday night’s rematch in Philadelphia. Update: Tatum is out for Friday night’s game.

CBSBoston.com Staff