Celtics will take it slow with Kemba Walker as NBA season officially resumes Friday

Ryan Hannable
July 31, 2020 - 8:57 am

Just because the Celtics will play a game that actually counts for the first time since the NBA shutdown Friday night against the Bucks, don't expect it to be full-go for Kemba Walker.

Walker has been dealing with a sore knee for the majority of the last few months and Brad Stevens confirmed to reporters Thursday the All-Star guard will have a minutes restriction.

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“Set in stone, 14-20 minutes,” Stevens said. “As I said yesterday, Kemba will be really happy with me when he hits somewhere between 18 and 20, I’m guessing. But he knows, I mean, we’ve covered it. The most important thing is his knee, his strength, you have to be able to build up appropriately. He’s done that in the last couple of weeks in practice. Maybe even a little ahead of schedule to be considering that he’s playing that many minutes in Game 1 with where we started earlier a couple weeks ago.

"But his strength of his knee and his ability to get in condition to play at the level that he wants to play by the time the playoffs start, this is part of the path and we’re going to stick with that.”

Walker admitted he's frustrated, but knows it's part of the process.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had to go through this so yes, it’s kind of tough,” he said. “But I’ll get there. I know what it’s about. I know it’s about me getting better for the playoffs and being available to my teammates. I’ll be fine. I’m working every single day to get myself prepared to play big minutes in the future. So I’ll be fine. Like I said, it’s tough, but it’s something I just have to deal with.”

The minutes restriction is all part of a bigger plan to have the All-Star ready for normal minutes once the playoffs begin.

“It will ramp up towards that, towards full minutes,” Stevens said. “So just like the last couple of weeks we’ve had a plan and we’ve ramped it up appropriately. As long as he hits all his marks, as long as he continues to gain strength, then we’ll keep ramping up his minutes, and by the end of the seeding games he’ll be playing near that full-game minutes for sure. But we’re not backing off the strength addition right now, and I think that’s a huge part of why he’s playing the minutes he’s playing because we still need to be able to build strength over the next few weeks.”

After Friday, the Celtics will have two more weeks of seeding games.

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