The Kemba Walker watch continued Wednesday with the expectation that he would rejoin the Celtics at practice after missing Sunday and Monday’s sessions. Instead, Brad Stevens said that Walker did not practice for the third consecutive Celtics session due to soreness in his left knee.
Stevens assured that Walker’s entry into training camp had more to do with strengthening that knee for the workload he’ll face ahead rather than a condition that will keep him out. That said, he’ll be working one day on, one day off for the foreseeable future.
“He did a harder workout yesterday on our off day,” Stevens said. “They chose to do it yesterday, he did a lot of running and shooting yesterday. He’s shooting a little bit right now. He’s reacting great, his knee feels good, so that’s a good thing. We’re still in the process of really prioritizing accumulating strength in that knee.”
Wednesday’s presser swayed between doses of optimism and appropriate caution. Marcus Smart and the wings stand in position to take over ball-handling duties if Walker misses game action. Though Stevens said that’s not something the Celtics are anticipating right now.
If that rotation approach continues into August, Boston faces short recovery times. Their regular season features eight games in 15 days, including a back-to-back. The lack of travel will add to recovery time, but tightened windows between game action could minimize that gain.
Marcus Smart spoke as well during Wednesday’s media availability, ready to man the ball in any potential Walker absence. He said he’s felt no after-effects of his bout with COVID-19 and the Celtics continue to monitor their oxygen and heart rates to any abnormalities, along with the NBA-mandated testing. It does not appear that the second positive test in the bubble was a Boston Celtic, with the first being the Nets’ Michael Beasley.
“That first game is going to feel like a playoff game for us,” Smart said. “We don’t have time to ease into things, and that’s kind of been our motto. Once we step on that floor we’re coming working, and we’ve got to get it going right off the rip. We don’t have time to lollygag, ease into it and go through the motions. I know we’ve been taking it wholeheartedly and to the head that we coming out, and when we’re between those lines we’re playing, it don’t matter. We’re going to for blood and trying to go out there kick each others a**es, excuse my French.”
Brad Wanamaker seconded the intensity of Boston’s workouts, which could contribute to Walker’s absence for now. The team spoke highly of the accommodations again. Wanamaker couldn’t complain given his wide-ranging career taking him to setups all over the world. Brad’s taking all the time he can to prepare practices — with little leisure available outside of golf — while Smart doesn’t see himself leaving the bubble like Richaun Holmes did.
The Celtics play their first scrimmage in nine days against the Thunder.