NBA: Celtics coach stands by Kemba Walker after Game 1 woes


Posted at Sep 17 2020 01:29 PM

NBA: Celtics coach stands by Kemba Walker after Game 1 woes 1
Jaylen Brown (left) and Kemba Walker celebrate a play in Game 3 on Saturday (US time). Kim Klement, Pool via Getty Images/AFP

Boston head coach Brad Stevens is not losing confidence in All-Star guard Kemba Walker, despite the veteran's recent struggles in the NBA playoffs.

By his own admission, Walker is "playing terrible," and it cost the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, which they lost, 117-114, in overtime.

Against the Heat, Walker had 19 points but shot just six-of-19 from the field, and made just one of his nine attempts from beyond the arc. It was the latest in a recent string of subpar performances from Walker, who also struggled in the last two games of their semifinals series against the Toronto Raptors.

"Not much I can say, but I have to be better," said Walker, as quoted by ESPN. "I have to do better for this team on both ends of the floor."

"I have to make better decisions. I just have to make shots, overall," he added.

Ahead of Game 2 of the best-of-7 series, Stevens stressed that he has no doubt Walker is capable of bouncing back.

"As far as Kemba goes, I don't lose any sleep over Kemba," said Stevens. "Nobody cares more than Kemba. Nobody wants to play better."

In his first year as a Celtic, Walker averaged 20.4 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game in the regular season, while shooting 42.5% from the field. In the playoffs, he is averaging 19.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game.

But Walker shot a combined 28.3% in their last three games, and made just three of 22 three-pointers in the same span. Stevens said the Boston coaching staff is also working on how to get Walker out of his slump.

"We are constantly going to the drawing board to figure out how we can make his life a little bit easier from our own perspectives," he said. "So we'll keep riding."

Game 2 of the Boston-Miami series is scheduled for Friday at 7 a.m., Manila time.