The Boston Celtics had previously ruled Kemba Walker out for Friday night’s game in Minnesota due to continued soreness in his left knee. After shootaround on Friday, Brad Stevens added a little more clarity on what Walker’s dealing with:
Brad Stevens said today that Kemba Walker had his left knee drained and received an injection to help with both swelling and soreness. Walker is out for at least tonight's game in Minnesota.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 21, 2020
Walker has missed games previously due to left knee soreness this season. However, this is the first time the team has acknowledged it was serious enough for action beyond just rest with the knee both being drained and receiving an injection to help with swelling and soreness.
Stevens went on to say that had the Celtics medical staff thought this was a possibility that “There is no way (Walker) would have played” in this past weekend’s NBA All-Star game. While exact playing time is difficult to determine, due to the game using the “Elam Ending”, Walker played around 30 minutes on Sunday. Many of those minutes were more competitive than is usual for an All-Star appearance, due to the nature of this season’s game.
Stevens continued to express optimism that “It doesn’t sound like it’s long-term or anything” and that it’s short-term enough that “playing Sunday (at the Los Angeles Lakers) will be in the discussion”.
Friday night will be Walker’s ninth missed game of this season. That’s the most games Walker has missed in a single season since being out for 20 games in 2014-15. Over his final four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Walker was one of the NBA’s most-durable players with a combined six missed games.
In the first year of a four-year, maximum contract that pays a total of $140.8 million, Walker has averaged 21.8 points, 5.0 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. He’s having the best overall shooting season of his career with an effective field goal percentage of 53%.
Boston kicks of a tough four-game road trip to start their post-All-Star break schedule at the Timberwolves. From there the Celtics will play at the Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz before returning back to Boston at the end of next week.