It was another win for the Boston Celtics Tuesday night as they continue to roll for their third straight and one of the major contributors to the team’s recent success has been Kemba Walker.
Walker finally looks like he has hit a rhythm. He has gotten his legs under him and is much more explosive and back to his normal self than the earlier games back from injury. Much like the team, Kemba was receiving a large amount of flack for his poor performances.
Now, Walker has scored 20 points or more in the last four games and included six or more assists in the last three. It has taken some time, but it looks like he is working himself back into form.
Specifically against the Clippers, Kemba was the spark in the third quarter the Celtics needed after a slow start. He finished with 13 points on 4-for-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the arc in the quarter. Overall on the night, Walker finished with 25 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds on 8-of-19 shooting. Six of those field goals were threes and these are the nights everyone loves to see from Kemba.
The biggest tell that Kemba Walker is feeling himself is the attitude and swagger he has to his game again. That confidence is back, and he knows he can score the basketball at will.
These first two clips from Tuesday are his patented pull-up three pointer off a screen. This is Kemba’s bread and butter. He takes that screen from the big man and then takes the open look after he sees the defender not pushing up to him on the arc. That is the only opening he needs.
These are positive signs for Kemba as he continues to work back into his groove. Over the last nine games, he is shooting 43.8% from three. He was not as confident pulling the trigger earlier in the season when he did not have his legs under him. Now, he has that mental green light to take the open look. Walker is also using his size and speed to find his spots on the court. He works around and pulls up quickly before the big man defender can get out there.
Here, Kemba has one of his few two-point baskets from this game, showing his burst that has continued to improve his rhythm. This seemed like a broken play with a loose ball, but Walker speeds around and through bodies for the scoop and score. Before, he may have passed it out to let Jayson Tatum work in iso, but now over the last few games, Walker has attempted to score on his terms.
Scoring aside, Kemba has also averaged about five assists over the last five games. This is huge as he is starting to get more attention from defenses. Walker has the basketball IQ to make the smart play that opens up great looks for the rest of the team. With Kemba being a facilitator and Jayson and Jaylen playing at All-Star levels, the Celtics could be Eastern Conference finalists again.
Here is a great instance of Kemba’s full game being close to his full 100% level. The start and stop driving through traffic only happens when he is at the peak of his powers. He finds Daniel Theis through traffic after making Nicolas Batum’s head spin. Other instances of Kemba’s vision also came early on as Tristan Thompson had his first two buckets after cutting to the rim following a double team. Kemba, like this one to Theis, found the rolling Thompson for two early buckets in the game.
This clip had to be included as the Rob Lob was executed to perfection. The pick-and-roll with Robert Williams has gone to another level this season with him grabbing and slamming the dunk home from all angles. The pass was on its way before Ivica Zubac could even realize what was going on.
This was the fourth game in a row Kemba Walker played at a very high level looking like he once did. It is a promising sight seeing him on the court in this capacity. Let’s have Kemba get healthy and take time to ramp it back up to that All-Star level everyone (including himself) expects of him.