BOSTON (CBS) — If the Celtics are going to stand any chance against the Nets in the first round, the team is going to need a much better performance out of Kemba Walker. The Boston point guard struggled mightily in Game 1 on Saturday night, and it cost the Celtics a chance to steal a game in Brooklyn.
Walker had a woeful shooting night in Game 1, hitting just five of the 16 shots that he put up, finishing with 15 points. That point total looks a lot better thanks to a pair of late threes, plus two free throws in the final minute, eight points that came when the outcome of the game was already decided.READ MORE: Patriots Release Kicker Roberto Aguayo, Long Snapper Wes Farnsworth
Walker hit two of his first four shots, but then missed nine of 10 from the floor. Early foul trouble had him in and out of the lineup a lot more than anyone would have liked, and the veteran point guard said that kept him from establishing any rhythm in the game.
“It was tough,” Walker said after Sunday’s practice. “I think it would have been tough on anybody. Being in foul trouble knocked my rhythm off, and being in and out of the game made it tough.”
Foul trouble or not, Walker did not look like the same player who ended the regular season on a hot streak. Far too often on Saturday night, he threw the ball up at the rim hoping for something good to happen. Those hopes were never answered. Walker said that he had some real good looks at the basket and he just didn’t hit them.READ MORE: Celtics Host Six Players For Pre-Draft Workout, Including Auburn's Sharife Cooper And Texas A&M's Jordan Hall
That needs to change in Game 2.
“I got some good looks and we got some good looks that we missed. They played some good defense. I thought we got great looks, we just have to knock them down,” he said. “We have to be confident, stay in our shots and knock them down. I think when we get those opportunities again we’ll be a lot better.”
With Jaylen Brown out for the postseason, the Celtics are going to need someone other than Jayson Tatum to score points if they want to make this series interesting. That’s what Boston paid Walker boatloads of money to do last summer, and the Boston brass had him on playing restrictions throughout the regular season in order to have him ready for moments like this.MORE NEWS: WATCH: Tom Brady Once Again Is Not Afraid Of 'The Madden Curse'
But Walker did not answer the call on Saturday, and the Celtics squandered an opportunity to steal the first game of the series. If Walker and the rest of Tatum’s supporting cast don’t step up soon, they won’t have many more opportunities to snap out of their respective struggles.