Encouraging minutes from Kemba Walker in Celtics bubble opener

Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Despite playing just 19 minutes on Friday night, Kemba Walker was able to make an impact in the Celtics' 119-112 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Playing on a minutes restriction due to a sore knee, Walker was one of the few bright spots for a Celtics team that for the most part struggled offensively. The 30-year-old scored 16 points on 5-9 shooting and went 3-6 from deep.

After the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens described Walker’s performance as “a positive.” However, when asked if he considered putting Walker back in late in the close game, Stevens was adamant that caution is key when it comes to his point guard, telling reporters, "I'm not playing that game. Kemba's knee is the most important thing."

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Kemba looks fantastic pic.twitter.com/zBcL0CKLlL

Walker mirrored that message in his postgame comments. "Just gotta stay positive,” he told reporters. “It's all about the bigger picture. My minutes will gradually go up game-by-game." He did add that he lobbied to be put back in the game late in the fourth quarter, but “No one would listen...so it didn't matter."

Walker’s knee may be the biggest question facing the Celtics as they head into the NBA Playoffs. His availability not only helps Boston on the offensive side of the floor, but it also allows Stevens to bring Marcus Smart off the bench and be more creative with his rotations.

The Celtics will continue to ramp-up Walker’s workload as the seeding round goes on. They’re back on the floor Sunday when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers at 3:30 p.m. Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell will have the call starting with pregame coverage at 3 on 105.7 WROR.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].