By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s been a long time since the Celtics had a true fourth-quarter killer.
Better yet, IT’s been a long since you’ve seen a fourth-quarter killer in Celtic Green. (See what I did there? Please note that my friends and family all hate me.) But after Friday’s comeback win over the Warriors, it’s Kemba Walker who has emerged as the go-to, final-frame threat that’s made the C’s look more than legitimate at a league-best 10-1 out of the gate.
With just six points on 1-for-11 shooting through three quarters, No. 8 checked in with the C’s down by five, drew a charge, and then turned it on and dropped a quarter-best 14 points behind a 5-for-8 frame from the floor. His biggest make? The game-clinching step-back deuce that had the Warriors’ Glen Robinson III swimming.
Easy-peasy, Kemba shimmy.
Kemba does the Antoine Walker Shimmy pic.twitter.com/I3fbZh5K2G— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) November 16, 2019
But Walker’s fourth-quarter theatrics were not exclusive to Friday’s win in Golden State.
Through the first month of NBA action, only four players have been more effective in the fourth quarter than Walker and his 8.7 points per fourth quarter. That list includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Kawhi Leonard, and James Harden. That group includes the last two NBA MVPs, a two-time Finals MVP, and perhaps the game’s most dominant guard in Dame.
Walker has also been the league’s most effective shooter from long range in the fourth quarter, with a league-high 53.6 percent from three-point land thanks to makes on 15 of his 28 heaves from deep.
In other words, Walker has been stupid good in crunch time in his first month with Boston.
“At the end of games, he’s just been remarkable,” Stevens said of Walker. “Kemba certainly makes you feel like you’ve always got a chance because he makes such big baskets.”
Here are some other thoughts and notes from the Green’s 10th straight victory…
The C’s love it by The Bay
Oakland? San Francisco? It doesn’t matter, ’cause these Celtics love playing in The Bay. In what was their sixth road head-to-head with the Warriors since the 2014-15 season, Boston’s victory pushed them to an impressive 4-2 against Steve Kerr’s club. This is actually unheard of, in fact, as the Celtics have moved into a tie with the Rockets for the most road wins against the Dubs over the last six years. Perhaps this is where I remind you that the C’s only go there once a season.
Robert Williams III limited with ankle injury
Celtics big man Robert Williams was considered available for this contest, but finished with just 10 minutes off the bench, as his ankle was apparently bothering him enough to keep him on the sidelines, as the Celtics did not want to risk further injury.
“He was available but kind of with an asterisk,” said Stevens.
Brad Stevens lauds Draymond Green’s leadership
Life came at the Warriors fast.
After half a decade as the league’s undisputed superpower, Friday’s collapse of a loss to the Celtics kept the Warriors at the bottom of the the NBA (as in the entire league), with just two wins in their first 13 games of the season. Even the Knicks are off to a better start, and everybody with even a passing interest in the Knicks hates everything about the Knicks’ existence.
But it’s not hard to see why this has happened to the Dubs; Kevin Durant, though injured, left as a free agent. Klay Thompson is out as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in last year’s fourth-round showdown with the Raptors. Stephen Curry is out with a broken hand, and Golden State has gone with a young-and-journeyman bench this time around. It’s all taken a toll on Golden State in their first year in San Francisco, and put the focus on Draymond Green as their by-default leader on and off the floor.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Celtics’ Stevens, who praised Green when talking about the league-worst Warriors.
“You can tell the way that Draymond Green is leading, he’s so engaged in all these young guys,” Stevens noted. “He’s leading all the way through and competing and kind of leading the charge. There’s a lot of character, competitive character [on the Warriors], which has been proved over a long period of time, and it’s being instilled into all of the new and younger guys.”
Oh, and the Warriors lost big name free agent pickup D’Angelo Russell to an injury in Friday’s game, too.
As for the injuries, Draymond summed it up best after the loss, saying, “You know, sometimes [expletive] just happens.”
Celtics have a shot at history on Sunday
And there’s this, courtesy of 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics play-by-play man Sean Grande.
Losing season opener, then winning 10 straight, NBA history..— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) November 16, 2019
1979-80 Milwaukee Bucks
2019-20 Boston Celtics
(Those Bucks lost their 12th game, so no team has ever won 11 straight after losing their opener. Celtics at Sacramento Sunday afternoon.)
The C’s visit the Kings at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.