Brad Stevens explains why Kemba Walker won’t play back-to-backs, even if they need him
Kemba Walker has had to prioritize his health throughout the 2020-21 season for the Celtics, and head coach Brad Stevens says that won’t change down the stretch of the season – even if it’s a must-win game.
Walker hasn’t played both games of a back-to-back at all this season, and Stevens told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Zolak & Bertrand that the Celtics are sticking to that – and haven’t even discussed otherwise.
“Nope. We have not even broached that topic,” Stevens said of Walker possibly playing the second night of a back-to-back. “This circumstance was set out as a way to best make him feel great at the end of the year, and his body hasn’t been through that yet. It’s such a fine balance. He’s got to feel great. Listen, if we’re the seventh seed, if we’re the eighth seed, if we’re the sixth seed, if we’re the fifth seed, and Kemba Walker doesn’t feel great? It’s going to make our road that much more difficult.
“Him feeling great has been a priority. It’s a priority because we obviously value him. But it’s also a priority because that’s our best chance of peaking whenever the postseason begins.”
The Celtics are 3.5 games ahead of the ninth-seeded Indiana Pacers in the playoff hunt entering Wednesday’s action, so they’re in good shape to end up with a playoff spot, anyway. But ideally, they win as many games and end up with as high a seed as possible – and without having to overwork Walker down the stretch.
Stevens also talked about the Celtics’ recent performance and Evan Fournier’s struggles with depth perception since returning from COVID, and gave some valuable advice to youth sports coaches. Listen below for the full interview.
Listen to Zolak and Bertrand weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.