The Boston Celtics have been managing Kemba Walker's knee after he underwent a procedure in the offseason that kept him out for nearly the first month of their 2020-21 campaign.
With less than a month to go for the postseason, both parties - Walker and the franchise - are now bearing the fruit of that management.
Against Phoenix at the TD Garden, the 30-year-old tied a season-high 32 points on an efficient 11-for-17 shooting from the field, which helped Boston prevail despite All-Star Jaylen Brown missing this game and Jayson Tatum (15 points, 3-17 FGs) having a rough night.
Kemba isn't letting up tonight 🤯 pic.twitter.com/bYG80M7DSH- Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 23, 2021
It was a grind-out low-scoring game, with Walker being the only Celtics player to score more than 10 points until the final minutes.
"My knee is feeling good," Walker said postgame. "It's not an issue. There ain't much else to say."
While the team will rely on Walker to provide and facilitate the offence, he isn't necessarily going to be the first option on the squad. With that in mind, the uptick in other key statistical categories month-by-month is a testament to his progress.
"He looks great. He feels great. We stuck with him and stuck with the plan," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said on Walker's management plan after the team's win against the Warriors this past Saturday. "I said we wouldn't chase seeding at the expense of the health of our players. It feels like that is paying off."
Walker had scored 26 in that game, including a clutch 3-pointer, pivotal to clinching that one. However, the 6-foot guard is peaking at the right time and making his presence felt on both ends of the floor.
He drew three charges against the Suns as Boston held Phoenix to just 86 points - only one more than their season-low. That takes his tally for charges drawn to a league-leading 19.
Both Walker and the Celtics are finding form when it matters most as Boston has now won seven of their last eight with wins over the Suns, Nuggets, Warriors, Blazers, Knicks and Lakers. They will have a chance to extend their momentum as they head to Brooklyn to take on the star-studded Nets after a day's break.
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