The Celtics make it official, ruling out Kemba Walker tonight against the San Antonio Spurs after listing him as doubtful yesterday. Walker is dealing with a left oblique strain he suffered last Sunday in Charlotte.
With nine games left in the season and important playoff seeding at stake, the Celtics would love to get their starting point guard back, but all year, they’ve prioritized his health with postseason goals in mind. Because of their dilligence (and Kemba’s continued patience with the process), Walker ends his April with arguably his best month as a Celtic and on par with the months leading up to his All-Star selection last season. He’s averaging nearly 18 points per game on 45% shooting. His six assists per game is his highest monthly average for the year and his turnovers are down, too.
The Spurs come to Boston winning five of their last seven games. They’re currently #9 in the Western Conference with 3.5 games separating the play-in tournament teams. The Celtics are in a similar situation in the East. Boston is 33-30 and seeded 6th, but have an identical record as the Miami Heat (who beat the Spurs on Wednesday night). Both teams are only two games behind the #4 New York Knicks and a game behind the #5 Atlanta Hawks. Suffice to say, tonight’s game is a key matchup for both the Celtics and Spurs in their hunt for playoff seeding and Walker’s absence will be felt.
Marcus Smart returns from a one-game suspension after approaching an official after Tuesday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.