Despite a stroke of optimism from Brad Stevens’ answers yesterday in regards to Kemba Walker and Payton Pritchard’s availability today, both will be out tonight on the second night of a back-to-back as the Boston Celtics take on the Sacramento Kings.
#NEBHInjuryReport for tonight vs. Sacramento:— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 3, 2021
Romeo Langford (right wrist surgery rehab) - OUT
Payton Pritchard (right MCL sprain) - OUT
Marcus Smart (left calf tear) - OUT
Kemba Walker (left knee injury management) - OUT
Last night, Brad Stevens didn’t completely shut the door on Kemba Walker playing tonight, but it should be no surprise to any that Walker isn’t available to play in back-to-backs yet this year. Honestly, he shouldn’t be because the goal isn’t to win as many regular season games as possible; the Celtics want him to be there and be himself as they make their way through the playoffs. Still, the timing is unfortunate now with three point guards missing for the Celtics.
Yesterday also marked a sign of optimism for FastP- I mean, Payton Pritchard after Stevens indicated that he’ll basically be day-to-day moving forward after a right MCL sprain. Pritchard has been a tremendous surprise so far this season, and he was very fortunate because his knee injury wasn’t as bad as initially feared. Although tonight won’t be the night, the fact that he’s traveling with the team and is day-to-day suggests that his return is imminent on this Western Conference road trip.
Who does that leave left? Brace yourself, it’s not pleasant. Boston’s point guard depth is down to Jeff Teague and Tremont Waters. Carsen Edwards too if you’re going by size and not play style. Edwards has actually shown more flashes this year than in the last regular season, so he might be ready to step up to the challenge. Tremont Waters hasn’t had many non-garbage time minutes to establish himself, but tonight is a big opportunity to show that he can run the second unit despite being undersized.
Jeff Teague has struggled this year. There’s no better time than now for him to break out of it because Boston doesn’t have many other options. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have both shown tremendous growth on the ball and in making plays for others this year, so the team will likely go as far as those two take them tonight against a young and energetic Kings team featuring Harrison Barnes who has played well and conveniently fits into the TPE.
The 11-8 Celtics take on the 9-11 Kings tonight at 10PM EST on League Pass and NBC Sports Boston.