Kemba ‘looks a lot more like himself’ amid great stretch of play originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Don’t look now, but Kemba Walker is starting to heat up.
After being much-maligned in his return from a knee injury that sidelined him for the first 11 games of the season, Walker has rounded back into form in recent games and sparked the Boston Celtics in their 121-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
In that contest, Walker put forth his best game of the season so far, totaling 28 points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals, and a block while providing solid defense for most of the game against Trae Young. His efforts rightly earned him some praise from Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
But it wasn’t just for that game. It was for his performance in the team’s last handful of games.
“Kemba’s been great in the last week,” Stevens said to reporters after the game. “That’s been a little under-the-radar [because of] our chronicle of struggles.”
Indeed, Walker’s performance has been great during the past week-plus. In his last four games played, the Celtics hold a 3-1 record and he is averaging some pretty strong numbers.
NBC Sports Boston Illustration
Walker has certainly played a big role in those three wins, and his efficient shooting from beyond the arc has been a boon for the team. As teammate Jayson Tatum pointed out, Walker is starting to look “more like himself” the deeper he gets into his return from injury.
“I mean, you can tell that he’s coming along,” Tatum said. “Each and every game, you can tell that he just feels, seems, and looks a lot more like himself. That’s what we all expected, so hopefully, we can get him out there more often.”
Of course, Walker isn’t playing in back-to-back games, as Tatum alluded to, so the C’s will have to get by without him on occasion. While Walker doesn’t like sitting out the back-to-backs, it has been helping him. As noted by Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, Walker’s three highest-scoring outputs of the season have come after skipping the latter end of a back-to-back.
Kemba’s three highest-scoring games this season have been his last three after sitting out the second half of a back-to-back.
In addition to keeping him healthy, rest matters in this condensed schedule.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) February 20, 2021
And Kemba acknowledged that he is feeling the positive effects of the extra rest.
“I feel really good,” Walker said. “I’m having fun, getting stronger every day. It’s just fun when you’re playing together and things are going well.”
Walker will look to stay hot on Sunday afternoon when the Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off is at 3:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston.